verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to preside over a meeting, committee, etc.


    get the chair, to be sentenced to die in the electric chair.
    take the chair,
    1. to begin or open a meeting.
    2. to preside at a meeting; act as chairperson.

Origin of chair

1250–1300; Middle English chaiere < Old French < Latin cathedra; see cathedra
Related formschair·less, adjectiveun·chair, verb (used with object)
Can be confusedchair chairman chairperson chairwoman (see usage note at chairperson)

Usage note

5. See chairperson. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for chair

Contemporary Examples of chair

Historical Examples of chair

  • He sat down in a chair, and stretched out his legs, with an air of being at home.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Percval quickly helped him into a chair, where he became limp.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • "I knew he'd plunge," he said, taking the chair proffered him, near Shepler's desk.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Grace sprang from her chair and began slipping into her wraps.

  • Opposite him sat a tall fellow very erect and stiff in his chair.

British Dictionary definitions for chair



a seat with a back on which one person sits, typically having four legs and often having arms
an official position of authoritya chair on the board of directors
the person chairing a debate or meetingthe speaker addressed the chair
a professorshipthe chair of German
railways an iron or steel cradle bolted to a sleeper in which the rail sits and is locked in position
short for sedan chair
in the chair chairing a debate or meeting
take the chair to preside as chairman for a meeting, etc
the chair an informal name for electric chair

verb (tr)

to preside over (a meeting)
British to carry aloft in a sitting position after a triumph or great achievement
to provide with a chair of office
to install in a chair

Word Origin for chair

C13: from Old French chaiere, from Latin cathedra, from Greek kathedra, from kata- down + hedra seat; compare cathedral
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 chair

early 13c., chaere, from Old French chaiere "chair, seat, throne" (12c.; Modern French chaire "pulpit, throne;" the more modest sense having gone since 16c. with variant form chaise), from Latin cathedra "seat" (see cathedral).

Figurative sense of "authority" was in Middle English, of bishops and professors. Meaning "office of a professor" (1816) is extended from the seat from which a professor lectures (mid-15c.). Meaning "seat of a person presiding at meeting" is from 1640s. As short for electric chair from 1900.


mid-15c., "install in a chair or seat" (implied in chairing), from chair (n.); meaning "preside over" (a meeting, etc.) is attested by 1921. Related: Chaired.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with chair


see musical chairs.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.