[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. chicory,
  2. chicoutimi,
  3. chid,
  4. chidden,
  5. chide,
  6. chief agglutinin,
  7. chief cell,
  8. chief constable,
  9. chief cook and bottlewasher,
  10. chief education officer


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

Can be confusedchef 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

Word Origin and History for chief
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper