- the head or leader of an organized body of people; the person highest in authority: the chief of police.
- the head or ruler of a tribe or clan: an Indian chief.
- (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.
- Informal. boss or leader: We'll have to talk to the chief about this.
- the upper area of an escutcheon.
- an ordinary occupying this area.
- highest in rank or authority: the chief priest; the chief administrator.
- most important; principal: his chief merit; the chief difficulty.
- Archaic. chiefly; principally.
- in chief,
- in the chief position; highest in rank (used in combination): editor in chief; commander in chief.
- Heraldry.in the upper part of an escutcheon.
Origin of chief
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for chief
“Having been a legislator and a mayor, I particularly enjoy being a chief executive,” he said.The Golden State Preps for the ‘Red Wedding’ of Senate Races
January 9, 2015
“You can imagine the sound of that gun on a Bronx street,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce says.Shot Down During the NYPD Slowdown
January 7, 2015
Take the chief metric of the war in Vietnam—body counts, which ultimately did not answer whether the strategy was working.Pentagon Doesn’t Know How Many People It’s Killed in the ISIS War
Nancy A. Youssef
January 7, 2015
That act forever sealed his feeling for the Chief, bound it up with the war, with violence, with the gun.
Throughout all the stories of loss and pain with the Chief, there was barely a trace of emotion.
"I jest can't keep him off the streets nights," was his chief complaint.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
She cared little for poverty or riches, as long as she had regained her chief treasures.Brave and Bold
He also is the chief of the police force and catches the thieves.Ancient Man
Hendrik Willem van Loon
It is not the name of the action, but the result of the action, which is the chief concern.
Chief Justice John Marshall administered the oath of office.
- the head, leader, or most important individual in a group or body of people
- another word for chieftain (def. 2)
- heraldry the upper third of a shield
- in chief primarily; especially
- most important; principal
- highest in rank or authority
- archaic principally
Word Origin and History for chief
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).
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.