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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.


(Arrangement in a series), noun categorization, chain, classification, collocation, gradation, grouping, order, order of succession, range, run, seriation, series, succession, system


(Persons in authority), noun authorities, bureaucracy, commanders, controllers, dictators, directors, government, heads, leadership power, management, managers, masters, officials, persons in power, powers, regency, regime, rulers, sovereignty
See also: class

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.

References in periodicals archive ?
She is also quick to credit Mike Bloom, the senior vice president of merchandising and her immediate superior, for his tremendous support.
Initially the aggrieved should be encouraged to have an informal meeting with their immediate superior to discuss the problem and see if they can work it out without using the formality of the procedure.
In an organisation like the Defence Forces, where the person doing the bullying may be your immediate superior, it is essential that there be an independent person to whom a complaint can be made to.
Sambur, who was Druyun's immediate superior as assistant secretary for acquisition beginning in 2001, said he does not feel responsible for the scandal.
The bungled operation persuaded the Government to put the three SB officers and their immediate superior on trial in an attempt at 'damage limitation'.
The lapses and rationalizations Rutkowski reveals bring on a return of the madness that overcame him twenty years earlier, goaded by an immediate superior whose pestilent bravado still holds him in thrall.
Discuss the situation with her immediate superior, and confront him with her evidence that he is acting in a discriminatory manner.
Vogts' crime is also compounded by the stance taken by his immediate superior Taylor.
The sample was purposefully drawn from those employees in the banking system whose immediate superior is a woman.
IF a group of you could go to personnel together and ask them to support your going to her immediate superior to make an informal complaint, perhaps this may hold more sway.
Commander Paddick was told his fate by his immediate superior, Assistant Commissioner Mike Todd, and his new job at Scotland Yard will be in "territorial policing".
The American Society of Forensic Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Impaired Physician Project recommends that a physician frankly discuss with his or her immediate superior any concerns regarding a colleague's potential or suspected impairment.

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