- the successor apparent to a Celtic chief, usually the oldest or worthiest of his kin, chosen by election among the tribe during the chief's lifetime.
Origin of tanist
First recorded in 1530–40, tanist is from the Irish word tánaiste second, substitute, heir by election
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for tanist
The "tanist" stood next to the chief, and was his successor.The Poem-Book of the Gael
To avert strife his tanist, or successor, was elected in his lifetime.Irish History and the Irish Question
Other monoliths are probably the Tanist Stones, where the new chief or king was elected, and sworn to protect and lead his people.
The use of the Tanist Stone is, like so many other primitive customs, of Eastern origin, and traceable to a very remote era.
Very often the sons refused to accept the tanist, and bloody quarrels followed.Ireland under the Tudors, Volume I (of II)
- history the heir apparent of a Celtic chieftain chosen by election during the chief's lifetime: usually the worthiest of his kin
C16: from Irish Gaelic tánaiste, literally: the second person
Word Origin and History for tanist
"elected heir of a Celtic chief," 1530s, from Gaelic tanaiste, literally "parallel, second," from Old Irish tanaise "designated successor," from Celtic *tani-hessio- "one who is waited for."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper