chief·​ly | \ ˈchē-flē How to pronounce chiefly (audio) \

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

Adverb our video collection consists chiefly of comedies, but we have a few horror movies
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb But DeSantis focused chiefly on teacher pay for those earning the least – wanting to bring base salaries to $47,500, second-highest in the nation. John Kennedy, USA TODAY, "GOP pushes pay raises for teachers, state workers in Florida: Genuine or election year politics?," 9 Feb. 2020 Some of San Francisco’s finest talents have been preserved chiefly in alcohol. Lillian Symes, Harper's magazine, "San Francisco Blues," 25 Nov. 2019 But the tide may have turned lately, chiefly in Harris’ favor. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos at the bye: Defensive rankings high, but improved pass-rush, takeaways needed," 11 Nov. 2019 For a hundred years, newspapers had relied chiefly on the sale of ads to cover most of the bills. Karl Vick, Time, "How A.G. Sulzberger Is Leading the New York Times Into the Future," 10 Oct. 2019 But Roy’s chiefly in dialogue with himself and the old video transmissions from his father. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: A space odyssey with Brad Pitt in ‘Ad Astra’," 18 Sep. 2019 The Southwest was chiefly desert and almost entirely uninhabited by people whose political opinions would have to be taken into account. H.w. Brands, Washington Post, "John and Jessie Frémont’s story of gold, ambition and the American West," 24 Jan. 2020 Against all advice, John—who is chiefly remembered for being forced to sign the Magna Carta, one of the cornerstones of civil liberty—took a shortcut via the Wash, a tidal estuary on England’s east coast. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "Royal Treasures, Lost and Found," 23 Jan. 2020 Sister Beatrice Donnellan argues that American economic interests and military interventions in Latin America in the 1980s are chiefly responsible for the economic and political instability driving migration to the U.S. today. Time, "'Our Work Is Helping People Find Happiness.' Meet the Leftist Nuns Helping Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 7 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for chiefly

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for chiefly

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chiefly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for chiefly


How to pronounce chiefly (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of chiefly

: mainly or mostly


chief·​ly | \ ˈchē-flē How to pronounce chiefly (audio) \

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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