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[tan-ist, thaw-nist] /ˈtæn ɪst, ˈθɔ nɪst/
noun, History/Historical.
the successor apparent to a Celtic chief, usually the oldest or worthiest of his kin, chosen by election among the tribe during the chief's lifetime.
Origin of tanist
First recorded in 1530-40, tanist is from the Irish word tánaiste second, substitute, heir by election Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for tanist


(history) the heir apparent of a Celtic chieftain chosen by election during the chief's lifetime: usually the worthiest of his kin
Derived Forms
tanistry, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Irish Gaelic tánaiste, literally: the second person
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 tanist

"elected heir of a Celtic chief," 1530s, from Gaelic tanaiste, literally "parallel, second," from Old Irish tanaise "designated successor," from Celtic *tani-hessio- "one who is waited for."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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