[ cheef ]
See synonyms for: chiefchiefest on

  1. the head or leader of an organized body of people; the person highest in authority: the chief of police.

  2. the head or ruler of a tribe or clan: an Indian chief.

  1. Chief, U.S. Army. a title of some advisers to the Chief of Staff, who do not, in most instances, command the troop units of their arms or services: Chief of Engineers;Chief Signal Officer.

  2. Informal: Sometimes Offensive. boss or leader: We'll have to talk to the chief about this.

  3. Heraldry.

    • the upper area of an escutcheon.

    • an ordinary occupying this area.

  1. highest in rank or authority: the chief priest; the chief administrator.

  2. most important; principal: his chief merit;the chief difficulty.

  1. Archaic. chiefly; principally.

Idioms about chief

  1. in chief,

    • in the chief position; highest in rank (used in combination): editor in chief; commander in chief.

    • Heraldry. in the upper part of an escutcheon.

Origin of chief

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English, from Anglo-French chief, chef, Old French chef, from unattested Vulgar Latin capum, re-formation of Latin caput head

synonym study For chief

7. See capital1.

usage note For chief

See powwow.

Other words for chief

Opposites for chief

Other words from chief

  • chief·less, adjective
  • chief·ship, noun
  • sub·chief, noun
  • un·der·chief, noun

Words that may be confused with chief

Words Nearby chief Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use chief in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for chief


/ (tʃiːf) /

  1. the head, leader, or most important individual in a group or body of people

  2. another word for chieftain (def. 2)

  1. heraldry the upper third of a shield

  2. in chief primarily; especially

  1. (prenominal)

    • most important; principal

    • highest in rank or authority

  1. archaic principally

Origin of 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