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

Related But investors appeared more focused on global economic concerns, chiefly how the U.S. and China will proceed with their trade spat. Michael Wursthorn, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Inch Higher, Led by Industrial Companies," 11 Feb. 2019 Federal workers—chiefly within the aviation industry—calling out sick has been a recurring theme since the government closed its doors. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Major Airports Face Staffing Shortages and Delays Amid Government Shutdown," 25 Jan. 2019 The tax cuts enacted by Republicans and signed into law by Trump in December also will have a negative effect on Social Security in the near term, chiefly by reducing the program’s income from the taxation of benefits. Michael Hiltzik,, "Social Security and Medicare trustees confirm: GOP policies have hurt both programs," 5 June 2018 By one estimate, the environmental and social costs of plastic run to $139bn a year, chiefly from the greenhouse gases produced in its production and transport. The Economist, "Plastic surgeryDon’t bin plastic. To solve the polymer problem look East," 1 Mar. 2018 Still, China is dealing with other issues that have further fueled its currency’s drop: chiefly, trade tensions with Washington and a slowdown in growth. Ben Eisen, WSJ, "China Puts Yuan Skeptics on Notice as Currency Nears Decade Low," 26 Oct. 2018 Not to mention, Air France is the only airline pouring complimentary Champagne in all cabins, served on the Pape'ete route by chiefly Tahitian crew in traditional dress. Cynthia Drescher, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Everyone Is Suddenly Traveling to Tahiti," 9 Nov. 2018 For Thucydides history was chiefly contemporary history. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "History Made by Men, Not Gods," 9 Nov. 2018 Activities that add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere—chiefly the use of fossil fuels—need to be changed or eliminated. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Wind power makes the ground warmer even as it cools the planet," 7 Oct. 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

14 Feb 2019

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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More from Merriam-Webster on chiefly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chiefly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chiefly

Nglish: Translation of chiefly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chiefly for Arabic Speakers

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).


excited commotion or publicity

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