\ 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


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Brett Biggs, Walmart’s chief financial officer told analysts on an earnings call Tuesday, ticking off economic tail winds like lower gas prices and rising wages. Anne D'innocenzio, The Seattle Times, "Walmart flexes in the fourth quarter, beats all expectations," 20 Feb. 2019 Jane Kaye, a former chief financial officer at two New Jersey hospitals, tells SELF. Mattie Quinn, SELF, "8 Ways to Negotiate and Pay Off Expensive Medical Bills," 15 Feb. 2019 Variety reports that the 30-minute episodes will be hosted by Goop's site editors, chief content officer Elise Loehnen, and Gwyneth. Maya Mcdowell, House Beautiful, "Everything We Know So Far About Gwyneth Paltrow’s 'Goop' Series On Netflix," 6 Feb. 2019 However, there was no control group—and the chief authors of the study were managing partners at the company that made the extract (so, not exactly neutral parties). Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Surprise: Celery Juice Will Not Cure All of Your Health Issues," 25 Jan. 2019 Maira Liriano, the chief librarian and curator of the center’s Green Book collection, told me. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Green Book builds a feel-good comedy atop an artifact of shameful segregation. Yikes.," 7 Jan. 2019 Bailey stepped down as Burberry's chief creative officer in March 2018, and his inclusion on the New Year's Honors list commemorates his impactful time at the fashion house. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Christopher Bailey Is on the Queen’s New Year’s Honors List for His Work at Burberry," 30 Dec. 2018 According to the school district’s chief operating officer Raymond Votto Jr., Cranston schools have incurred $45,859 in unpaid lunch debt and had to write off more than $95,000 from September 1, 2016, to June 30, 2018. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "How states and crowdfunding are tackling the growing problem of student lunch debt," 27 Dec. 2018 The network launched an internal investigation, during which the Times claims that CBS' chief compliance officer Mark Engstrom submitted footage of Dushku cursing on set, purportedly to undermine her complaints. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "CBS Confirms It Paid Actress Eliza Dushku $9.5 Million to Settle Harassment Claims," 15 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Richard Bash, deputy chief of Ohio's Columbus Police Department. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Peoria's search for new police chief down to four finalists," 14 July 2018 While there, the Queen met with the director of the GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, the chief of MI6 Alex Younger, and the director general of MI5, Andrew Parker. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth Makes Her First Official Public Appearance of 2019," 14 Feb. 2019 According to a press release from the department, Fisher worked his way up the ranks, becoming a lieutenant in 1987, a captain in 1999, and deputy chief in 2000. Morgan Hughes,, "Curing the flu, wedding dresses for soldiers, and food for the elderly," 13 July 2018 Glenda Bailey was appointed editor-in-chief of BAZAAR in 2001, after helming both British and U.S. editions of Marie Claire. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Glenda Bailey Is Named a Dame in the 2019 New Year's Honors List," 2 Jan. 2019 To Judd Legum, editor-in-chief and founder of left-leaning political news website ThinkProgress, the two biggest problems are ads and social media. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "Judd Legum Wants to Fix News With a Newsletter," 12 July 2018 Leading the new strategic division will be veteran music exec Moussa Soumbounou, who has been appointed managing director, Western Africa and will report to Universal Music France chief Olivier Nusse. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Universal Music Expands Into French-Speaking Africa," 11 July 2018 Even today, daily questions about the counters are standard, chief among them whether Supermoon will produce terrazzo pieces for sale. Alex Ronan, Vogue, "How Terrazzo Moved Out From Under Our Feet to Absolutely Everywhere," 18 Jan. 2019 The former Pentagon chief made some questionable decisions despite the president, too. Alex Ward, Vox, "James Mattis, the last “adult” in the Trump administration, resigns as defense secretary," 20 Dec. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near chief





chief constable



Statistics for chief

Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chief

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

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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



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

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

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