[ tan-ist, thaw-nist ]
/ ˈtæn ɪst, ˈθɔ nɪst /

noun History/Historical.

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.

Nearby words

  1. tanguy, yves,
  2. tangy,
  3. tanh,
  4. tanimbar islands,
  5. tanis,
  6. tanistry,
  7. taniwha,
  8. tanizaki,
  9. tanizaki jun-ichiro,
  10. tanizaki, junichiro

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for tanist

British Dictionary definitions for tanist


/ (ˈtænɪst) /


history the heir apparent of a Celtic chieftain chosen by election during the chief's lifetime: usually the worthiest of his kin
Derived Formstanistry, noun

Word Origin for tanist

C16: from Irish Gaelic tánaiste, literally: the second person

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 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