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chief

[cheef]
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noun
  1. the head or leader of an organized body of people; the person highest in authority: the chief of police.
  2. the head or ruler of a tribe or clan: an Indian chief.
  3. (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.
  4. Informal. boss or leader: We'll have to talk to the chief about this.
  5. Heraldry.
    1. the upper area of an escutcheon.
    2. an ordinary occupying this area.
adjective
  1. highest in rank or authority: the chief priest; the chief administrator.
  2. most important; principal: his chief merit; the chief difficulty.
adverb
  1. Archaic. chiefly; principally.
Idioms
  1. in chief,
    1. in the chief position; highest in rank (used in combination): editor in chief; commander in chief.
    2. Heraldry.in the upper part of an escutcheon.

Origin of chief

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French chief, chef, Old French chef < Vulgar Latin *capum, re-formation of Latin caput head
Related formschief·less, adjectivechief·ship, nounsub·chief, nounun·der·chief, noun
Can be confusedchef chief

Synonyms

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7. foremost, leading, prime, paramount, cardinal.

Synonym study

7. See capital1.

Antonyms

6. subordinate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for chiefer

chief

noun
  1. the head, leader, or most important individual in a group or body of people
  2. another word for chieftain (def. 2)
  3. heraldry the upper third of a shield
  4. in chief primarily; especially
adjective
  1. (prenominal)
    1. most important; principal
    2. highest in rank or authority
adverb
  1. archaic principally

Word Origin

C13: from Old French, from Latin caput head
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

Word Origin and History for chiefer

chief

adj.

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).

chief

n.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper