See more synonyms for chair on
  1. a seat, especially for one person, usually having four legs for support and a rest for the back and often having rests for the arms.
  2. something that serves as a chair or supports like a chair: The two men clasped hands to make a chair for their injured companion.
  3. a seat of office or authority.
  4. a position of authority, as of a judge, professor, etc.
  5. the person occupying a seat of office, especially the chairperson of a meeting: The speaker addressed the chair.
  6. (in an orchestra) the position of a player, assigned by rank; desk: first clarinet chair.
  7. the chair, Informal. electric chair.
  8. chairlift.
  9. sedan chair.
  10. (in reinforced-concrete construction) a device for maintaining the position of reinforcing rods or strands during the pouring operation.
  11. a glassmaker's bench having extended arms on which a blowpipe is rolled in shaping glass.
  12. British Railroads. a metal block for supporting a rail and securing it to a crosstie or the like.
verb (used with object)
  1. to place or seat in a chair.
  2. to install in office.
  3. to preside over; act as chairperson of: to chair a committee.
  4. British. to carry (a hero or victor) aloft in triumph.
verb (used without object)
  1. to preside over a meeting, committee, etc.
  1. get the chair, to be sentenced to die in the electric chair.
  2. 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. 2018

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

  • His shoulders over-flowed the back of his chair, which creaked whenever he moved.

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

British Dictionary definitions for chair


  1. a seat with a back on which one person sits, typically having four legs and often having arms
  2. an official position of authoritya chair on the board of directors
  3. the person chairing a debate or meetingthe speaker addressed the chair
  4. a professorshipthe chair of German
  5. railways an iron or steel cradle bolted to a sleeper in which the rail sits and is locked in position
  6. short for sedan chair
  7. in the chair chairing a debate or meeting
  8. take the chair to preside as chairman for a meeting, etc
  9. the chair an informal name for electric chair
verb (tr)
  1. to preside over (a meeting)
  2. British to carry aloft in a sitting position after a triumph or great achievement
  3. to provide with a chair of office
  4. 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.