\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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


the chief engineer on the project Her job is their chief source of income. He has many concerns, chief among them his health.


the chief of the estate was left to the eldest son our chief is out on a business trip right now
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Under another provision of the same law, the company’s senior management, including its chief executive and chief financial officer, are restricted from traveling to the U.S., according to a regulatory filing. Mengqi Sun, WSJ, "Companies in Cuba Face Legal Risks as U.S. Changes Stance on Seized Property," 2 May 2019 The HoloLens 2’s chief improvements are a field of view that’s more than double that of the first-generation HoloLens, or about 2,000 pixels per eye. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft makes HoloLens 2 available for developers, alongside Unreal Engine support," 2 May 2019 It’s time for Dr. Palmer to be the permanent chief medical examiner. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Is Ducky Leaving 'NCIS'?," 13 Mar. 2019 The state of the Palace of Westminster, the home of the U.K. parliament, seems to be of chief concern. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "MPs Warn that the U.K.'s Parliament Building is Vulnerable to a Notre-Dame-Like Fire," 17 Apr. 2019 And Goessling’s 11 years as executive director and chief legal counsel of the conservative Southeastern Legal Foundation tells a story that raises serious concerns. Teen Vogue, "Shannon Goessling, Trump’s Pick to Lead the Office on Violence Against Women, Has a Troubling Record," 18 Mar. 2019 In support of Cohen, David Lauren, the youngest son of Ralph and the chief innovation officer at the company, gathered an illustrious group to the flagship store of the brand founded by his father a half-century ago. Ian Malone, Vogue, "Jeff Koons and Monica Lewinsky Attend a Book Party Honoring Accidental Presidents at Ralph Lauren," 3 Apr. 2019 Goop’s chief content officer Elise Leohman told me. Elizabeth Nicholas, Vogue, "The Top Takeaways from 2019’s In Goop Health Summit," 12 Mar. 2019 The news comes after Raf Simons’ departure as chief creative officer in December. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Calvin Klein Is Reportedly Shutting Down Its Runway Collection," 6 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For most who take the Pill, that number is closer to 10 percent, says Marjorie Greenfield, the division chief of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Ginny Graves, Allure, "Birth Control: 3 Different Types and How They Work," 8 Apr. 2019 Emotional stress even has the potential to cause an aneurysm to rupture, says Gary Steinberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief of neurosurgery at Stanford Healthcare and chair of the department of neurosurgery at Stanford University. Macaela Mackenzie, Glamour, "Emilia Clarke's Aneurysms Almost Killed Her—Women Need to Know the Risks," 22 Mar. 2019 Amy Ford, the chief of advanced mobility for Colorado’s Department of Transportation, told The Verge that a feasibility study funded by Arrivo was still ongoing, but that the startup hadn’t communicated with the state agency in about a month. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Hyperloop startup Arrivo is shutting down as workers are laid off," 15 Dec. 2018 If his wife excels in her slavering devotion to the commander-in-chief, her spouse is just as ferocious in his condemnation of the president. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: “This Is the End of My Presidency!”," 21 Apr. 2019 The plan, according to Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos, is to have The Crown run for six seasons and cover Queen Elizabeth's entire life. Glamour, "Everything We Know So Far About The Crown Season 3," 9 Apr. 2019 The company approached Marvel Comics, whose editor-in-chief loved the idea and handed it off to a low-level editor, Larry Hama. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "Yo, Joe: How a 12-Inch Soldier Doll Became a Toy Legend," 9 Apr. 2019 According to Helmand council chief, Attahullah Afghan, the attack on the army outpost took place in Sangin district on Friday. Amir Shah, The Seattle Times, "Afghan official: Taliban killed 33 troops, police in Helmand," 25 Mar. 2019 The case for optimism on 2 degrees The forum also includes a response from economist Michael Grubb, a professor at University College London and editor-in-chief of the journal Climate Policy. David Roberts, Vox, "The case for “conditional optimism” on climate change," 29 Jan. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about chief

Dictionary Entries near chief





chief constable



Statistics for chief

Last Updated

7 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chief

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for chief



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on chief

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chief

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Comments on chief

What made you want to look up chief? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!