9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[chair-muh n] /ˈtʃɛər mən/
noun, plural chairmen.
the presiding officer of a meeting, committee, board, etc.
the administrative head of a department in a high school, college, or university.
someone employed to carry or wheel a person in a chair.
verb (used with object), chairmaned or chairmanned, chairmaning or chairmanning.
to act as or be chairman of (a meeting, committee, etc.).
Origin of chairman
1645-55; chair + -man
Can be confused
chair, chairman, chairperson, chairwoman (see usage note at chairperson)
Usage note Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for chairman
  • He calls its president its chairman or managing director.
  • Skill at fighting for your department is part of the chairman's job but it is not the purpose of academic leadership.
  • The chairman knew perfectly well that he was going to be harming the environment and decided to go ahead anyway.
  • Delegates postponed a decision about the exact terms of office of the group's chairman and head of the secretariat.
  • The commentator also claims that the chairman said he would try out some techniques in the book, and sent the book to a library.
  • Under the current chairman, that one tool may suffice.
  • Having failed as the firm's chairman, his only contribution to better governance is to resign along with its other top executives.
  • He would stay a year as executive chairman, said an advisor, and then do something else.
  • Legend had it that he knew every state party chairman in the country.
  • He is the chairman and interim party leader of the opposition united national congress.
British Dictionary definitions for chairman


noun (pl) -men
Also called chairperson, (fem) chairwoman. a person who presides over a company's board of directors, a committee, a debate, an administrative department, etc
(history) someone who carries a sedan chair
Derived Forms
chairmanship, noun
Usage note
Chairman can seem inappropriate when applied to a woman, while chairwoman can be offensive. Chair and chairperson can be applied to either a man or a woman; chair is generally preferred to chairperson
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 chairman

1650s, "occupier of a chair of authority," from chair (n.) + man (n.). Meaning "member of a corporate body chosen to preside at meetings" is from c.1730. Chairwoman in this sense first attested 1752; chairperson 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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