English Dictionary

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hierarchy (ˈhaɪəˌrɑːkɪ



(plural) -chies
  1. a system of persons or things arranged in a graded order
  2. a body of persons in holy orders organized into graded ranks
  3. the collective body of those so organized
  4. a series of ordered groupings within a system, such as the arrangement of plants and animals into classes, orders, families, etc
  5. (linguistics, mathematics) a formal structure, usually represented by a diagram of connected nodes, with a single uppermost element . Compare ordering, heterarchy, tree (sense 6
  6. government by an organized priesthood

Derived Forms

ˌhierˈarchical, or ˌhierˈarchic  adjective
ˌhierˈarchically  adverb
ˈhierˌarchism  noun

Word Origin

C14: from Medieval Latin hierarchia, from Late Greek hierarkhia, from hierarkhēs high priest; see hiero-, -archy


View thesaurus entry
= grading, ranking, social order, pecking order, class system, social stratum

Quotations including 'hierarchy'

  • "We rank ourselves by the familiar dog system, a ladderlike social arrangement wherein one individual outranks all others, the next outranks all but the first, and so on down the hierarchy" [Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
  • "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence" [Laurence Peter

Translations for 'hierarchy'

  • British English: hierarchy A hierarchy is a system of organizing people into different ranks or levels of importance, for example in society or in a company. NOUNLike most other companies with a rigid hierarchy, workers and managers had strictly defined duties.
  • Brazilian Portuguese: hierarquia
  • Chinese: 等级制度等级級制度
  • European Spanish: jerarquía
  • French: hiérarchie
  • German: Hierarchie
  • Italian: gerarchia
  • Japanese: 階層性
  • Korean: 위계질서
  • Portuguese: hierarquia
  • Spanish: jerarquía

Example Sentences Including 'hierarchy'

`Old Father continued whistling and said, `There is no disgust hierarchy.
Zindell, David The Broken God
It was believed by the Roman Church that these birds ' ability to speak elevated them in the hierarchy of creation.
Tony Juniper SPIX'S MACAW: The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird (2002)
They tended to be a well-disciplined body, not merely by conscience alone but by the terms of the hierarchy.
Meek, M R D In Remembrance of Rose


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