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See more synonyms for chiefly on Thesaurus.com
  1. primarily; essentially: He phoned chiefly to let us know he was feeling better.
  2. mainly; mostly: This dish consists chiefly of noodles.
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  1. of, relating to, or like a chief: his chiefly responsibilities.
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Origin of chiefly

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at chief, -ly

Synonym study

1, 2. See especially.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for chiefly

essentially, especially, mostly, largely, principally, predominantly, mainly, primarily, overall, usually

Examples from the Web for chiefly

Contemporary Examples of chiefly

Historical Examples of chiefly

British Dictionary definitions for chiefly


  1. especially or essentially; above all
  2. in general; mainly; mostly
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  1. of or relating to a chief or chieftain
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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 chiefly


"pre-eminently," mid-14c., from chief + -ly (2). Adjectival meaning "pertaining to a chief" is from 1870 (from -ly (1)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper