- the chief of a clan or a tribe.
- a leader of a group, band, etc.: the robbers' chieftain.
- (initial capital letter) Military. Britain's main battle tank since 1969, fitted with a 120mm gun and two machine guns and weighing 55 tons (50 metric tons).
Origin of chieftain
Examples from the Web for chieftain
This was not quite how things appeared to the Caledonian chieftain Calgacus before he fought the invading Roman army in AD 83.War! What Is It Good For? A Lot
August 13, 2014
He was the chieftain of a clan that spread over Down and Antrim.The Foolish Lovers
St. John G. Ervine
The next moment the chieftain entered and glared fiercely at Siegmund.Opera Stories from Wagner
For this are you ill, in order to punish your father, because our chieftain the axe is angry.Aino Folk-Tales
Basil Hall Chamberlain
But there was something of the chieftain, something of the prophet, about him.The Great Hunger
He is described as a chieftain standing in a chariot drawn by two horses.History of Religion
- the head or leader of a tribe or clan
- the chief of a group of people
Word Origin and History for chieftain
early 14c., cheftayne "ruler, chief, head" of something, from Anglo-French chiefteyn, Old French chevetain "captain, chief, leader," from Late Latin capitaneus "commander," from Latin capitis, genitive of caput "head" (see capitulum). According to "Rob Roy" (1818) a Highland chieftain was the head of a branch of a clan, a chief was the head of the whole name. Related: Chieftainship.