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chief·​ly ˈchē-flē How to pronounce chiefly (audio)
: most importantly : principally, especially
: for the most part : mostly, mainly


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: of or relating to a chief
chiefly duties

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
This is a characterization that applies chiefly to despots and authoritarian types; dictators who engineer their systems to stay in power for far longer than democracy typically allows. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, 9 Sep. 2023 Tusk, leader of the opposition Civic Coalition, and Polish media allege that the government admitted about 130,000 Muslim migrants last year despite its anti-migrant statements, aimed chiefly at non-Christians. Monika Scislowska,, 7 Sep. 2023 Delicate questions have yet to be worked out between Saudi Arabia and Israel – chiefly the Saudis’ reported insistence that Israel’s far-right government recommit to the idea of an eventual two-state agreement with the Palestinians. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 24 Aug. 2023 No Rain for many Days, Winds chiefly at West and N. West. Martin Finucane,, 23 Aug. 2023 Meanwhile, the true heroes are – drumroll, please – the journalists, chiefly WSJ’s Sean McLain and Nick Kostov, chasing down the leads and leaks and data dumps that make the story possible. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 21 Aug. 2023 At its core this story is about trauma and loss, suffered chiefly by Adele who was deprived of her family and early chances to expand her intellectual capacity, warehoused in the notorious Willowbrook State School. Longreads, 11 Aug. 2023 But despite its age-old connotation, the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae remains a real and very present danger, with some 200,000 people in 120 countries reporting the tell-tale signs of the disease—chiefly skin lesions, lumps, ulcers, and loss of sensation. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 10 Aug. 2023 Since her convention win and ensuing controversies, Maloy has stuck chiefly to media appearances and right-wing podcasts where she was not asked about the controversy. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Aug. 2023
That includes chiefly masks of various types and hand-washing. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 24 Feb. 2023 After the British arrived, Tu, a scion of a chiefly family on Tahiti, dealt cleverly with the newcomers. Jeff Chu, Travel + Leisure, 30 Jan. 2022 Known to Samoans by her chiefly title of Fiame, the daughter of the country's original prime minister served as Samoa's first female cabinet minister from 1991 to 2006. Erin Spencer, Forbes, 19 May 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chiefly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1870, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near chiefly

Cite this Entry

“Chiefly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: above all
: for the most part

More from Merriam-Webster on chiefly

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