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chief

[cheef] /tʃif/
noun
1.
the head or leader of an organized body of people; the person highest in authority:
the chief of police.
2.
the head or ruler of a tribe or clan:
an Indian chief.
3.
(initial capital letter) U.S. Army. a title of some advisers to the Chief of Staff, who do not, in most instances, command the troop units of their arms or services:
Chief of Engineers; Chief Signal Officer.
4.
Informal. boss or leader:
We'll have to talk to the chief about this.
5.
Heraldry.
  1. the upper area of an escutcheon.
  2. an ordinary occupying this area.
adjective
6.
highest in rank or authority:
the chief priest; the chief administrator.
7.
most important; principal:
his chief merit; the chief difficulty.
adverb
8.
Archaic. chiefly; principally.
Idioms
9.
in chief,
  1. in the chief position; highest in rank (used in combination):
    editor in chief; commander in chief.
  2. Heraldry. in the upper part of an escutcheon.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English < Anglo-French chief, chef, Old French chef < Vulgar Latin *capum, re-formation of Latin caput head
Related forms
chiefless, adjective
chiefship, noun
subchief, noun
underchief, noun
Can be confused
chef, chief.
Synonyms
7. foremost, leading, prime, paramount, cardinal. See capital1 .
Antonyms
6. subordinate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for chief
  • Yet the chief suspect in the minds of many ornithologists is that picture of doe-eyed innocence-the deer.
  • Chairmen and non-executive directors are to challenge chief executives and their boards far more often.
  • By the second half of the eighteenth century, spectacles were one of the chief attractions of the theatre.
  • The chief engineer comes to the bridge with a hopeless report.
  • For you may imagine what kind of faith theirs was, when the chief doctors and fathers of their church were the poets.
  • Robberies, murders and abductions are the chief ingredients.
  • The commander in chief's mood was as bleak as the landscape.
  • During the last visit, her chief complaint had been irritated sores on the scalp.
  • The decline has allowed scientists to focus on more subtle traumas, and concussions are chief among them.
  • The chief executive has to have the ability and authority to function.
British Dictionary definitions for chief

chief

/tʃiːf/
noun
1.
the head, leader, or most important individual in a group or body of people
2.
another word for chieftain (sense 2)
3.
(heraldry) the upper third of a shield
4.
in chief, primarily; especially
adjective
5.
(prenominal)
  1. most important; principal
  2. highest in rank or authority
adverb
6.
(archaic) principally
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from Latin caput head
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for chief
adj.

c.1300, "highest in rank or power; most important or prominent; supreme, best," from Old French chief "chief, principal, first" (10c., Modern French chef), from Vulgar Latin *capum (also source of Spanish and Portuguese cabo, Italian capo, Provençal cap), from Latin caput "head," also "leader, guide, chief person; summit; capital city" (see capitulum).

n.

c.1300, "head, leader, captain; the principal or most important part of anything;" from Old French chief "leader, ruler, head" of something, "capital city" (10c., Modern French chef), from Vulgar Latin *capum, from Latin caput "head," also "leader, chief person; summit; capital city" (see capitulum). Meaning "head of a clan" is from 1570s; later extended to American Indian tribes. Commander-in-chief attested from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for chief

chief

noun
  1. A man; fellow; guy, mac •Usu in direct address to a stranger, with a sense of ironic deference (1930s+)
  2. lsd (1960s+ Narcotics)
Related Terms

too many chiefs and not enough indians


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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