\ 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 titlescommander in chief

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Other Words from chief


chiefdom \ ˈchēf-​dəm How to pronounce chiefdom (audio) \ noun
chiefship \ ˈchēf-​ˌship How to pronounce chiefship (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 Democrats raised concerns about Grenell being a political appointee without sufficient background in intelligence, but Grenell said he won't be nominated to take on the spy chief role permanently. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, "Richard Grenell seeks intelligence from briefing on Russia election interference," 22 Feb. 2020 Tom Sotak, chief deputy of engineering for the Department of Public Works, said the bridge maintenance team had noticed concrete deck issues and distress on the bridge. Laura Bednar, cleveland, "A pleasant surprise: Cuyahoga County completes Pleasant Valley Road bridge repairs ahead of schedule," 22 Feb. 2020 The decision relates to a databank, maintained by the city's chief medical examiner's office, of DNA that the NYPD has collected in its investigations, including from people questioned, arrested or charged but never convicted. Jason Hanna, CNN, "NYPD says it will remove some non-convicts from its local DNA database," 22 Feb. 2020 Sean Whent replaces interim chief Anthony Toribio, who served for two days. Steve Rubenstein,, "A timeline of chaos: Oakland police chief’s firing the latest embarrassment two decades after ‘Riders’ scandal," 21 Feb. 2020 In February 1942, when Italian diplomat Alberto Rossi Longhi criticized the hotel’s cleanliness, Johnston asked its chief housekeeper, 70-year-old Mary Florentina Harrington, to respond. Harvey Solomon, Smithsonian Magazine, "When the Greenbrier and Other Appalachian Resorts Became Prisons for Axis Diplomats," 21 Feb. 2020 Victoria’s Secret’s image began to feel outdated—a situation only made worse by public comments about plus-size and trans models from its former chief marketer, Ed Razek. Marc Bain, Quartz, "Victoria’s Secret’s longtime boss is out as the brand is sold off," 20 Feb. 2020 Patricia Riekel, a former chief editor of German celebrity magazine Bunte, and a Herzogpark resident, will act as a consultant for the series. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, "RTL's TVNow Greenlights German Event Series 'Herzogpark'," 20 Feb. 2020 The nonprofit organization's chief financial concern, according to victims’ attorneys and bankruptcy experts, is rising liability from abuse lawsuits. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy. What it means for Louisville's troops," 18 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Take a lesson from our editor-in-chief and match your slime green vinyl coat to your midi skirt. Michelle Li, Teen Vogue, "The Best Street Style From Milan Fashion Week 2020," 21 Feb. 2020 The report is filled with allegations of unprofessional conduct by Timeus and was delivered to West Linn City Hall on Feb. 12, 2008, three years after West Linn hired Timeus as its chief without a background check. oregonlive, "Heather Canyon run described as ‘ice sheet’ on day snowboarder died at Mt. Hood Meadows: Morning Briefing for Friday, Feb. 21," 21 Feb. 2020 Shares of Six Flags were down about 18% in midday trading, as the company also cut its dividend by 70% to 25 cents a share and announced its finance chief’s retirement. Amber Burton, WSJ, "Six Flags Swings to Unexpected Loss, Slashes Dividend by 70%," 21 Feb. 2020 Donald Trump may change that in May. News broke this week that the commander-in-chief will be attending NASCAR's largest event, the Daytona 500, on Sunday. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "Will Donald Trump come to the 2020 Kentucky Derby? These other stops make it look possible," 14 Feb. 2020 However, his view of what’s proper is so often identical to the president’s wants that not everyone was sold on his uncommonly critical response to the tweeter-in-chief. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Attorney general Bill Barr gets an ethics complaint for Valentine’s Day," 14 Feb. 2020 Bill Murray's character, the editor-in-chief of the pub, was inspired by The New Yorker's founding editor, Harold Ross. Morgan Baila,, "Wes Anderson’s Dreamy French Dispatch Trailer Is Here," 13 Feb. 2020 France loses its only female CAC 40 chief, a new literary prize will honor women writers, and women overcome Oscar snubs. Fortune, "The Oscars snub female directors, but women still win the night," 10 Feb. 2020 Deadline's co-editor-in-chief of TV coverage, Nellie Andreeva, revealed that insiders have indicated that's the range the actors are looking at to appear in the hourlong special. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "The 'Friends' Cast Are Reportedly Getting as Much as $4 Million for HBO Max Reunion Special," 8 Feb. 2020

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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Statistics for chief

Last Updated

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for chief


How to pronounce chief (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of chief

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: highest in rank or authority
: most important



English Language Learners Definition of chief (Entry 2 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on chief

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chief

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chief

Spanish Central: Translation of chief

Nglish: Translation of chief for Spanish Speakers

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

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