chief·​ly | \ˈchē-flē \

Definition of chiefly 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : most importantly : principally, especially

2 : for the most part : mostly, mainly



Definition of chiefly (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to a chief chiefly duties

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Examples of chiefly in a Sentence


our video collection consists chiefly of comedies, but we have a few horror movies

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Mr Comey’s error was to think his good intentions, chiefly his concern for the FBI’s independence, justified his overstepping the boundaries of institutional propriety. The Economist, "Bitter attack on Trump by the FBI’s former director," 21 Apr. 2018 In the new contract, teachers gain additional lesson planning time, chiefly from adding 15 minutes to their work day, and keep current benefits. Bethany Barnes,, "Previously secret details of Portland teachers contract are now public," 5 Feb. 2018 The United States acted partly out of charity, but chiefly out of self-interest. The Economist, "The Western alliance is in trouble," 5 July 2018 His performance sharply rebukes the rumors that swarmed the internet a few months earlier, suggesting the actor himself was chiefly responsible for the production's many woes. Justin Chang,, "'Solo: A Star Wars Story' never gets off the ground, but don't blame Alden Ehrenreich," 16 May 2018 But then the school’s football team is said to earn, through attendance but chiefly through television contracts, roughly $100 million a year. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "I Loved College Basketball, but Now I Feel March Sadness," 15 Mar. 2018 Skeptics doubt that anything basic has changed and that a regime that has survived chiefly on its ability to threaten Armageddon will be reluctant to give up everything. David E. Sanger,, "Trump makes a bet on his ‘terrific relationship’ with North Korean leader," 12 June 2018 Last week, both sides began imposing 25% tariffs on $34 billion worth of each other’s products—chiefly Chinese exports of intermediate industrial goods by the U.S. and American farm products by China. WSJ, "China Plans More Retaliatory Tariffs as Trade Dispute With the U.S. Worsens," 11 July 2018 The rhetoric of the NFFA is just passable enough to seem plausible, chiefly conveyed by actor Patch Darragh as a doughy, duplicitous chief of staff who wears his arrogant privilege like another tacky lapel pin. Mark Olsen,, "Review: 'The First Purge' delivers genre pleasures with a timely message of resilience," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chiefly.' 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 chiefly


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1870, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for chiefly

Last Updated

24 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chiefly

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

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More Definitions for chiefly



English Language Learners Definition of chiefly

: mainly or mostly


chief·​ly | \ˈchē-flē \

Kids Definition of chiefly

1 : above all : most importantly We're chiefly concerned with safety.

2 : for the most part Owls are active chiefly at night.

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Comments on chiefly

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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