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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 But the real party — chiefly along E. North Ave., from N. Oakland to N. Prospect avenues, spilling onto Cramer St., Murray Ave. and Farwell Ave. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Things to do in Milwaukee this weekend: Summer Soulstice, Greek Fest, Cedarburg's strawberries and more," 21 June 2018 Maryland's firearm prohibitions for domestic violence misdemeanors chiefly apply to handguns, not rifles or shotguns., "The Capital Gazette Shooting Is A Tragic Reminder: Take Abuse Of Women Seriously.," 29 June 2018 Its runways are still busy, chiefly because Memphis is home to FedEx, whose purple, orange and white cargo jets roar morning and night through the western Tennessee sky. New York Times, "The Trouble With the Memphis Airport: No Crowds," 23 May 2018 The new program marks a shift for Garcetti, whose administration has focused chiefly on building housing rather than temporary shelters, an approach backed by many homeless advocacy groups. Emily Alpert Reyes,, "Garcetti heralds L.A.'s progress, touts plan for homeless shelters," 16 Apr. 2018 The principal adults in the story reveal that they are driven chiefly by ignoble motives. Dan Hofstadter, WSJ, "Longing, Violence and Social Rank," 25 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of chiefly


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1870, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about chiefly

Statistics for chiefly

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chiefly

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


an open space surrounded by woods

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

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!