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A group of people who form an ascending chain of power or authority.

Officers in a government, for example, form an escalating series of ranks or degrees of power, with each rank subject to the authority of the one on the next level above. In a majority of hierarchical arrangements, there are a larger number of people at the bottom than at the top.

Originally, the term was used to mean government by a body of priests. Currently, a hierarchy is used to denote any body of individuals arranged or classified according to capacity, authority, position, or rank.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

HIERARCHY, eccl. law. A hierarchy signified, originally, power of the priest; for in the beginning of societies, the priests were entrusted with all the power but, among the priests themselves, there were different degrees of power and authority, at the summit of which was the sovereign pontiff, and this was called the hierarchy. Now it signifies, not so much the power of the priests as the border of power.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
A person's social connections may also render that person more valuable to a hierarchical organization and/or better able to climb the hierarchy. An individual who can bring in lots of business for a firm is likely to receive a position that better utilizes their connections--a position that will likely be higher in the hierarchy.
In the final part in the next issue we will close off the series by examining the hierarchy I use for classifying my large and varied photographic collection.
Choosing a = -[epsilon][a.sub.n+1], we arrive at the following generalized super-NLS-mKdV hierarchy:
A hierarchy that instills confidence in employees will do that.
Furthermore, this ruling hierarchy must know that it is only in regimented polities and despotic autocracies where the people at the top of the state apparatus can have their way as they like.
The GM Hierarchy organizes and quantifies category data in order to increase marketplace performance and provide better understanding of the GM categories.
All becomes evident with resignation of Syed Ghous Ali Shah's resignation, which surprisingly occurred after party hierarchy put a deaf ear to his protests over rigging of elections by PPP.
Traditional block hierarchy. To understand how to use the more advanced types of hierarchy, it helps to examine the commonly used traditional hierarchy.
"These findings are telling us that the amygdala is specifically involved in learning information about social rank based on experience and suggest that separate neural circuits are involved than for learning hierarchy information of a non-social nature," Dr Dharshan Kumaran at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, who led the study, said.
Confucianism attempts to "establish harmony in a complex society of contentious human beings through a strong and orderly hierarchy" (Park & Luo, 2001, p.
Smedal (eds), Hierarchy: Persistence and transformation in social formations.