1 of 3


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


2 of 3




3 of 3


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

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web
In October, Joel Ackerman, chief financial officer of the dialysis provider DaVita Inc., DVA -0.60% told analysts on a conference call that the company would focus more of its capital deployment on lowering its debt level. Matt Grossman, WSJ, 30 Nov. 2022 As the chief people officer at EOS Investors, Dan honed his eye and attention to detail while working under Andrew Zobler, founder and CEO of the Sydell Group, the hospitality brand behind stylish boutique hotels like Nomad and Line. Jennifer Fernandez, House Beautiful, 30 Nov. 2022 Eric Mason, Quincy’s chief financial officer, estimated that the extra $23 million would cost the average residential property owner about $38 a year over 30 years., 30 Nov. 2022 For more information about the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership contact Lynn Hawkins, chief officer of membership and partnerships at or (501) 588-3938. Arkansas Online, 30 Nov. 2022 At one point, the school’s chief financial officer accused Sanders of choking him at a meeting in 2013 after a confrontation about financial problems. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, 29 Nov. 2022 Also beautiful: the methodical approach to Chase’s case taken by Randi Abramson, chief medical officer at Bread. John Kelly, Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2022 Angie Klein, chief revenue officer of TracFone and Verizon Prepaid and CEO of the digital carrier Visible, will take on a new role as SVP and president of Verizon Value within the company's consumer group division. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 29 Nov. 2022 Matt Vespi, the city’s chief financial officer, told the budget committee that not making reserve contributions during the pandemic didn’t damage San Diego’s credit rating. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Nov. 2022
McConnell largely aided Trump during his tenure in the White House, even though the former commander-in-chief repeatedly made racist remarks before and during his presidency. Morgan Watkins, The Courier-Journal, 30 Nov. 2022 Martínez alerted Dada, the editor-in-chief, and then convened an emergency meeting with senior members of the newsroom. Ronan Farrow, The New Yorker, 30 Nov. 2022 Jakob Jensen, the Danish football association chief commended the changes that have taken place in Qatar since 2010 in an interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson Thursday. Eoin Mcsweeney, CNN, 28 Nov. 2022 Our former editor-in-chief loved the Natural Hybrid Mattress for its plush top and side sleeper-friendly design. SELF, 26 Nov. 2022 The former commander-in-chief shared two photos of himself serving food. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, 24 Nov. 2022 Former National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg was appointed public broadcaster GBH’s next president and CEO. Jon Hilsenrath, Fortune, 22 Nov. 2022 Impact and Excellence Award was presented by Vibe editor-in-chief Datwon Thomas to Guyanese-American artist SAINt JHN. Neena Rouhani, Billboard, 18 Nov. 2022 Flu vaccines can reduce the risk that children will die or need hospitalization from the illness, said Dr. John Cunningham, physician-in-chief at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune, 17 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Noun and Adjective

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

First Known Use


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near chief

Cite this Entry

“Chief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: highest in rank or authority
chief librarian
: most important : main
your chief claim to fame


2 of 2 noun
: the head of a group : leader
chief of police

More from Merriam-Webster on chief

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