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Petrichor: The smell after rainfall


[cheef] /tʃif/
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.
  1. the upper area of an escutcheon.
  2. 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,
  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 forms
chiefless, adjective
chiefship, noun
subchief, noun
underchief, noun
Can be confused
chef, chief.
7. foremost, leading, prime, paramount, cardinal. See capital1 .
6. subordinate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for chiefest
Historical Examples
  • He was afraid the chiefest places of his enterprise might be attempted, and he should be undone.

    Sir Walter Ralegh William Stebbing
  • It was Latin, she said, and it meant "the chiefest among sinners."

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • There were some 400 or 450 men aboard that ship, ten of the chiefest among whom I brought into my ship, to serve as hostages.

  • In the sheer youth of her (he realized) more than in aught else, lay her chiefest charm.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • If it is good, it will clothe him better and feed him better, for this to him is the chiefest good in life.

  • Her society was his chiefest joy, and it is said that he ever remained faithful to her.

    Henry IV, Makers of History John S. C. Abbott
  • He seemed to be the chiefest spokesman of them all, and every one appeared very glad indeed to be friendly with him.

    Master Skylark John Bennett
  • For this I hoped, for my life as it had become was no longer my chiefest good.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • Angelo hath merited the chiefest commendation; next him Raph.

    Ex Voto Samuel Bulter
  • All your letter is delicious, but chiefest the last sentence where you say you like your Chaucer so much.

    Hortus Inclusus John Ruskin
British Dictionary definitions for chiefest


the head, leader, or most important individual in a group or body of people
another word for chieftain (sense 2)
(heraldry) the upper third of a shield
in chief, primarily; especially
  1. most important; principal
  2. highest in rank or authority
(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
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Word Origin and History for chiefest



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for chiefest



  1. A man; fellow; guy, mac •Usu in direct address to a stranger, with a sense of ironic deference (1930s+)
  2. lsd (1960s+ Narcotics)

Related Terms

too many chiefs and not enough indians

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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