\ ˈchēf How to pronounce chief (audio) \

Definition of chief

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : accorded highest rank or office chief librarian the company's chief executive
2 : of greatest importance or influence the chief reasons their chief accomplishment



Definition of chief (Entry 2 of 3)




Definition of chief (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : the upper part of a heraldic field
2 : the head of a body of persons or an organization : leader chief of police
3 : the principal or most valuable part would never rest till she had read the chief of the letter to him— Jane Austen
in chief
: in the chief position or place often used in titles commander in chief

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Other Words from chief


chiefship \ ˈchēf-​ˌship How to pronounce chief (audio) \ noun

Examples of chief in a Sentence

Adjective the chief engineer on the project Her job is their chief source of income. He has many concerns, chief among them his health. Noun the chief of the estate was left to the eldest son our chief is out on a business trip right now
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective At the news conference naming the new Cabinet, the chief Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, who was named deputy information and culture minister, stressed the transitional nature of the government., 7 Sep. 2021 Their chief concern now involves the bank holding company, Wilmington Trust, seeking to recoup a $10.6 million bond note owed to them on the property since last summer, when mortgage payments went into default. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, 7 Sep. 2021 Six years ago, Joe Zehnder, Portland’s chief planner who retired in July after 20 years with the city, championed for smaller, attached homes in single-dwelling zones as a way to curtail larger houses, dubbed McMansions, from replacing older houses. oregonlive, 7 Sep. 2021 The inaugural Waterfowl Hunters Expo drew about 2,500 people and 130 dogs on Aug. 28 to Sunnyview Exposition Center in Oshkosh, said Bruce Ross, executive director of the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association and chief organizer of the event. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7 Sep. 2021 The Syrian government and its chief international backer, Russia, have publicly called on refugees to return home and accused Western countries of discouraging it with claims that Syria is still unsafe. Zeina Karam, ajc, 7 Sep. 2021 The office has 79 employees, in addition to the sheriff and his chief deputy. Thomas Saccente, Arkansas Online, 6 Sep. 2021 Alan Sepinwall is Rolling Stone‘s chief TV critic and co-author of The Sopranos Sessions. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 6 Sep. 2021 For more than 85 years, this trio served as chief prosecutors over the five-county Lowcountry region. Michael M. Dewitt, USA TODAY, 6 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The keynote speaker will be retired Mesa fire Chief Dennis Compton, who responded to the World Trade Center and Pentagon during his time as chief, according to the city. Taylor Seely, The Arizona Republic, 8 Sep. 2021 The department has since created a recruitment and retention team, and Yolanda Talley, a 27-year veteran of the department and a Black woman, will lead it as deputy chief of recruitment and retention. Stephanie Casanova,, 7 Sep. 2021 Prayuth, who led the coup seven years ago as army chief, has concentrated power in his own hands, arguing that enhanced executive powers are needed to fight the pandemic., 5 Sep. 2021 Don Green, who worked for 27 years for the Pelham Fire Department and retired in 2016 as battalion chief, died Saturday due to COVID-19, the fire department announced. Paul Gattis |, al, 4 Sep. 2021 Howard County Executive Calvin Ball on Wednesday named Louis Winston as the new chief of the Department of Fire and Rescue Services. Allana Haynes,, 1 Sep. 2021 Hart, who moved to Detroit from Pennsylvania in the late 1940s in search of a better life, was hired by Mayor Coleman Young, the city's first Black mayor, as chief in 1976. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, 27 Aug. 2021 At the Police Department, three people in addition to Williams have died in custody since Edward Flynn took over as chief in 2008. Gina Barton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 23 Aug. 2021 The shooting inflamed racial tensions in the city, prompted calls for police reform and led to numerous protests and the hiring of Shields as police chief. Deon J. Hampton, NBC News, 21 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chief.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chief


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chief

Noun and Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French chief, chef head, chief, from Latin caput head — more at head

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Time Traveler for chief

Time Traveler

The first known use of chief was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near chief



chief constable

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Statistics for chief

Last Updated

10 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for chief



English Language Learners Definition of chief

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: highest in rank or authority
: most important : main



English Language Learners Definition of chief (Entry 3 of 2)

: the person who is the leader of a group of people, of an organization, etc.


\ ˈchēf How to pronounce chief (audio) \

Kids Definition of chief

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the head of a group : leader the chief of police
in chief
: in the highest ranking position or place editor in chief



Kids Definition of chief (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : highest in rank or authority chief executive
2 : most important : main a chief reason

More from Merriam-Webster on chief

Nglish: Translation of chief for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chief for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about chief


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