[tan-ist, thaw-nist]
noun History/Historical.
the successor apparent to a Celtic chief, usually the oldest or worthiest of his kin, chosen by election among the tribe during the chief's lifetime.

1530–40; < Irish tánaiste second, substitute, heir by election

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World English Dictionary
tanist (ˈtænɪst)
history the heir apparent of a Celtic chieftain chosen by election during the chief's lifetime: usually the worthiest of his kin
[C16: from Irish Gaelic tánaiste, literally: the second person]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"elected heir of a Celtic chief," 1538, from Gael. tanaiste, lit. "parallel, second," from O.Ir. tanaise "designated successor," from Celt. *tani-hessio- "one who is waited for."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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