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[sey-chuh m] /ˈseɪ tʃəm/
  1. the chief of a tribe.
  2. the chief of a confederation.
a member of the governing body of the League of the Iroquois.
one of the high officials in the Tammany Society.
Slang. a political party leader.
Origin of sachem
southeastern New England Algonquian
1615-25, Americanism; < southeastern New England Algonquian (compare Narragansett (E spelling) sâchim, saunchum, Massachusett sontim) < Proto-Algonquian *sa˙kima˙wa; cf. sagamore
Related forms
sachemdom, noun
[sey-chem-ik, sey-chuh-mik] /seɪˈtʃɛm ɪk, ˈseɪ tʃə mɪk/ (Show IPA),
sachemship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sachem
Historical Examples
  • The sachem of tribes, or tribal-chief is chosen by chiefs of the gentes.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • When they arrived at Corbitant's house they found the sachem not at home.

    King Philip

    John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott
  • Their sachem, Uncas, had his royal residence in the present town of Norwich.

    King Philip

    John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott
  • The sachem set a chair for her and relieved her of the staff and her bag.

  • The sachem saw all this, and his mighty spirit was stirred within him.

    Burl Morrison Heady
  • And the great Indian sachem had become the ally of the little English king.

    Burl Morrison Heady
  • At four the sachem received a shot in her boilers and was at once enveloped in steam.

  • One of these corresponded to the sachem among northern tribes.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • But their most deadly and formidable enemy was Philip, sachem of the Wampanoags.

  • Here the sachem Hendrick joined them with a body of his Mohawks.

British Dictionary definitions for sachem


(US) a leader of a political party or organization, esp of Tammany Hall
another name for sagamore
Derived Forms
sachemic (seɪˈtʃɛmɪk; ˈseɪtʃə-) adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Narraganset sǎchim chief
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 sachem

chief of an American Indian tribe, 1620s, from Narragansett (Algonquian) sachim "chief, ruler," cognate with Abenaki sangman, Delaware sakima, Micmac sakumow, Penobscot sagumo. Applied jocularly to a prominent member of any society from 1680s; specific political use in U.S. is from 1890, from its use as the title of the 12 high officials of the Tammany Society of New York.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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