[ cheef ]
/ tʃif /



highest in rank or authority: the chief priest; the chief administrator.
most important; principal: his chief merit; the chief difficulty.


Archaic. chiefly; principally.


    in chief,
    1. in the chief position; highest in rank (used in combination): editor in chief; commander in chief.
    2. Heraldry. in the upper part of an escutcheon.

Origin of chief

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French chief, chef, Old French chef < Vulgar Latin *capum, re-formation of Latin caput head

Related forms

chief·less, adjectivechief·ship, nounsub·chief, nounun·der·chief, noun

Can be confused

chef chief

Synonym study

7. See capital1. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for chief

British Dictionary definitions for chief


/ (tʃiːf) /


the head, leader, or most important individual in a group or body of people
another word for chieftain (def. 2)
heraldry the upper third of a shield
in chief primarily; especially


  1. most important; principal
  2. highest in rank or authority


archaic principally

Word Origin for chief

C13: from Old French, from Latin caput head
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