[ sey-chuh m ]
/ ˈseɪ tʃəm /


(among some North American Indians)
  1. the chief of a tribe.
  2. the chief of a confederation.
a member of the governing body of the League of the Iroquois.
one of the high officials in the Tammany Society.
Slang. a political party leader.

Origin of sachem

1615–25, Americanism; < southeastern New England Algonquian (compare Narragansett (E spelling) sâchim, saunchum, Massachusett sontim) < Proto-Algonquian *sa˙kima˙wa; cf. sagamore
Related formssa·chem·dom, nounsa·chem·ic [sey-chem-ik, sey-chuh-mik] /seɪˈtʃɛm ɪk, ˈseɪ tʃə mɪk/, adjectivesa·chem·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sachem

British Dictionary definitions for sachem


/ (ˈseɪtʃəm) /


US a leader of a political party or organization, esp of Tammany Hall
another name for sagamore
Derived Formssachemic (seɪˈtʃɛmɪk, ˈseɪtʃə-), adjective

Word Origin for sachem

C17: from Narraganset sǎchim chief
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 sachem



chief of an American Indian tribe, 1620s, from Narragansett (Algonquian) sachim "chief, ruler," cognate with Abenaki sangman, Delaware sakima, Micmac sakumow, Penobscot sagumo. Applied jocularly to a prominent member of any society from 1680s; specific political use in U.S. is from 1890, from its use as the title of the 12 high officials of the Tammany Society of New York.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper