The father and ruler of a family; one who governs his family or descendants by paternal right; -- usually applied to heads of families in ancient history, especially in Biblical and Jewish history to those who lived before the time of Moses.
- A man who rules a family, clan, or tribe.
- Bible One of the antediluvian progenitors of the human race, from Adam to Noah.
- Bible Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or any of Jacob's 12 sons, the eponymous progenitors of the 12 tribes of Israel.
- Used formerly as a title for the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria.
- Roman Catholic Church A bishop who holds the highest episcopal rank after the pope.
- Eastern Orthodox Church Any one of the bishops of the sees of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Moscow, and Jerusalem who has authority over other bishops.
- Judaism The head of the Sanhedrin in Syrian Palestine from about 180 B.C. to A.D. 429.
- Mormon Church A high dignitary of the priesthood empowered to invoke blessings.
- One who is regarded as the founder or original head of an enterprise, organization, or tradition.
- A very old, venerable man; an elder.
- The oldest member of a group: the patriarch of the herd.