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[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
First recorded in 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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for chairman
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The chairman rose to propose the toast of the evening, and was received with cheers.

  • Mr. Randell, the chairman of the Perth Municipality, read an address of welcome.

  • He was chairman of this, Trustee of that, President of the other.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • "That is my name," said the chairman of the Malgamite Fund, with his finger in his watch-chain.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • Marsh shouted to the chairman, and the piercing whistle for order was heard.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
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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