primarily; essentially: He phoned chiefly to let us know he was feeling better.
mainly; mostly: This dish consists chiefly of noodles.


of, relating to, or like a chief: his chiefly responsibilities.

Origin of chiefly

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

Synonym study

1, 2. See especially. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for chiefly

Contemporary Examples of chiefly

Historical Examples of chiefly

British Dictionary definitions for chiefly



especially or essentially; above all
in general; mainly; mostly


of or relating to a chief or chieftain
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)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper