Pronunciation: (pā'trē-ärk"), [key]
1. the male head of a family or tribal line.
2. a person regarded as the father or founder of an order, class, etc.
3. any of the very early Biblical personages regarded as the fathers of the human race, comprising those from Adam to Noah (antediluvian patriarchs) and those between the Deluge and the birth of Abraham.
4. any of the three great progenitors of the Israelites: Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.
5. any of the sons of Jacob (the twelve patriarchs), from whom the tribes of Israel were descended.
6. (in the early Christian church) any of the bishops of any of the ancient sees of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, or Rome having authority over other bishops.
7. Gk. Orth. Ch. the head of any of the ancient sees of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, or Jerusalem, and sometimes including other sees of chief cities. Cf. ecumenical patriarch.
8. the head of certain other churches in the East, as the Coptic, Nestorian, and Armenian churches, that are not in full communication with the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople.
9. Rom. Cath. Ch.
a. the pope as patriarch of the West.
b. any of certain bishops of the Eastern rites, as a head of an Eastern rite or a bishop of one of the ancient sees.
c. the head of a Uniate church.
10. Mormon Ch. any of the high dignitaries who pronounce the blessing of the church; Evangelist.
11. one of the elders or leading older members of a community.
12. a venerable old man.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.