[chair-muh n]
See more synonyms for chairman on
noun, plural chair·men.
  1. the presiding officer of a meeting, committee, board, etc.
  2. the administrative head of a department in a high school, college, or university.
  3. someone employed to carry or wheel a person in a chair.
verb (used with object), chair·maned or chair·manned, chair·man·ing or chair·man·ning.
  1. to act as or be chairman of (a meeting, committee, etc.).

Origin of chairman

First recorded in 1645–55; chair + -man
Can be confusedchair chairman chairperson chairwoman (see usage note at chairperson)

Usage note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for chairman

Contemporary Examples of chairman

Historical Examples of chairman

  • The chairman rose to propose the toast of the evening, and was received with cheers.

  • Mr. Randell, the Chairman of the Perth Municipality, read an address of welcome.

  • He was Chairman of this, Trustee of that, President of the other.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • "That is my name," said the chairman of the Malgamite Fund, with his finger in his watch-chain.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • Marsh shouted to the chairman, and the piercing whistle for order was heard.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

British Dictionary definitions for chairman


noun plural -men
  1. Also called: chairperson, (fem) chairwoman a person who presides over a company's board of directors, a committee, a debate, an administrative department, etc
  2. history someone who carries a sedan chair
Derived Formschairmanship, noun


Chairman can seem inappropriate when applied to a woman, while chairwoman can be offensive. Chair and chairperson can be applied to either a man or a woman; chair is generally preferred to chairperson
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 chairman

1650s, "occupier of a chair of authority," from chair (n.) + man (n.). Meaning "member of a corporate body chosen to preside at meetings" is from c.1730. Chairwoman in this sense first attested 1752; chairperson 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper