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From Old French monarchie, from Late Latin monarchia, from Ancient Greek μοναρχία (monarkhía), from μόνος (mónos, only) + ἀρχή (arkhḗ, power, authority).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmɒnə(ɹ)ki/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈmɑnəɹki/
  • (file)


monarchy (countable and uncountable, plural monarchies)

  1. A government in which sovereignty is embodied within a single, today usually hereditary head of state (whether as a figurehead or as a powerful ruler).
    • An absolute monarchy is a monarchy where the monarch is legally the ultimate authority in all temporal matters.
    • A constitutional monarchy is a monarchy in which the monarch's power is legally constrained, ranging from where minor concessions have been made to appease certain factions to where the monarch is a figurehead with all real power in the hands of a legislative body.
  2. The territory ruled over by a monarch; a kingdom.
    • Shakespeare
      What scourge for perjury / Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?
  3. A form of government where sovereignty is embodied by a single ruler in a state and his high aristocracy representing their separate divided lands within the state and their low aristocracy representing their separate divided fiefs.

Usage notesEdit

Historically refers to a wide variety of systems with a single, nominally absolute ruler (compare autocracy, dictatorship), today primarily refers to and connotes a traditional, hereditary position, often with mainly symbolic power. Typically used of rulers who use the terms king/queen or emperor/empress.


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  1. genitive singular of monarcha