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Literally, a community of related families under the authority of a female head called a matriarch; applied more generally to any form of social organization in which women have predominant power, there being controversy as to whether a matriarchy has ever existed, although there is no doubt that matrilineal societies have existed. Compare patriarchy. matriarchal adj. [From Latin mater, matris a mother + Greek arche a rule]

Subjects: History.

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