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chieftain

[cheef-tuh n, -tin] /ˈtʃif tən, -tɪn/
noun
1.
the chief of a clan or a tribe.
2.
a leader of a group, band, etc.:
the robbers' chieftain.
3.
(initial capital letter) Military. Britain's main battle tank since 1969, fitted with a 120mm gun and two machine guns and weighing 55 tons (50 metric tons).
Origin
1275-1325
1275-1325; Middle English cheftayne, variant of chevetaine < Old French < Late Latin capitāneus captain
Related forms
chieftaincy, chieftainship, noun
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for chieftain-ship

chieftain

/ˈtʃiːftən; -tɪn/
noun
1.
the head or leader of a tribe or clan
2.
the chief of a group of people
Derived Forms
chieftaincy, chieftainship, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French chevetaine, from Late Latin capitāneus commander; see captain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for chieftain-ship

chieftain

n.

early 14c., cheftayne "ruler, chief, head" of something, from Anglo-French chiefteyn, Old French chevetain "captain, chief, leader," from Late Latin capitaneus "commander," from Latin capitis, genitive of caput "head" (see capitulum). According to "Rob Roy" (1818) a Highland chieftain was the head of a branch of a clan, a chief was the head of the whole name. Related: Chieftainship.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for chieftain-ship

chieftain

political leader of a social group, such as a band, tribe, or confederacy of tribes. Among many peoples, chiefs have very little coercive authority and depend on community consensus for implementing recommendations; often a number of recognized chiefs form a tribal chiefs' council. Among more advanced preliterate societies, there may be a single paramount tribal chief with coercive authority.

Learn more about chieftain with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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