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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 ?
Now I am sure that a good number of these students had at some point taken courses in religion, anthropology, history, or African American studies which had invited them to relativize rather than hierarchize cross-cultural differences in belief.
President Mauricio Macri presented the relaunch of the National Institute of Public Administration (INAP), which aims to create the necessary tools to hierarchize and professionalize the state employee with the objective of providing citizens with more modern and efficient services.
2, the title of which begins with Is it always reasonable to hierarchize.
Who would dare to hierarchize the world of home furnishings, thus demoting the wall unit to the ranks of subpar product on a furniture industry scale?
Because "so very much of our thinking about class and social hierarchy is structured by ecophobia and the way [in which] we lay value on, commodify, and hierarchize nature," when we engage in environmental justice, we also engage in social justice (64).
Normal and abnormal are established, measured, and then used to hierarchize the various individuals.
Frequently, we may hierarchize them on the basis of knowledge: although the text is addressed to two or more audiences, only one knows all that the other knows as well as what it alone is able to discern.
Tellingly, Sheriff Hampton, an embodiment of the "symbolic order," cannot but hierarchize the pair and see the "black" Aleck as the "white" Chick's "secretary" (155).