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hi·er·ar·chy (hīə-rärkē, hīrär-)
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n. pl. hi·er·ar·chies
1. A group of persons or things organized into successive ranks or grades with each level subordinate to the one above: a career spent moving up through the military hierarchy.
2. Categorization or arrangement of a group of people or things into such ranks or grades: classification by hierarchy; discounting the effects of hierarchy.
3. A body of persons having authority: "his relations with Hitler and the Nazi hierarchy" (John Kenneth Galbraith).
4. A group of animals in which certain members or subgroups dominate or submit to others.
5. One of three main divisions of angels in traditional Christian angelology.

[Middle English ierarchie, from Old French, from Medieval Latin hierarchia, from Greek hierarkhiā, rule of a high priest, from hierarkhēs, high priest; see HIERARCH.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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