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 California legislators insist lagging housing supply growth in California is chiefly responsible for pushing home prices up and reducing affordability. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Opinion: Your Say on proposal to eliminate single-family home zoning," 2 Apr. 2021 Looking back at it, Keenan said his decision to close his tasting rooms throughout March was chiefly concerned about keeping his employees safe. Richard Ruelas, The Arizona Republic, "'We failed to look out for each other': Maynard James Keenan on the days of wine and COVID," 19 Mar. 2021 This can be a challenge in areas that have substantially more Republican or Democratic voters — chiefly Detroit. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan GOP senators file 39 election reform bills Democrats call racist, based on lies," 25 Mar. 2021 Most likely, the vote will chiefly serve as a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for March 23: Boulder, Covid-19, Israel, White House, China," 23 Mar. 2021 Prejudice against Asian people, chiefly Chinese and Japanese residents, dates back more than 150 years in the Golden State. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: The roots of anti-Asian violence can be found in California history," 22 Mar. 2021 The city could still face a lawsuit from the state attorney general, Letitia James, whose office investigated the crisis in response to the Times series and found the city was chiefly responsible. New York Times, "New York to Spend $65 Million to Rescue Cab Drivers. Is It Enough?," 10 Mar. 2021 Labor force growth in the Twin Cities area is now chiefly driven by people of color, including immigrants. Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune, "U.S. Bancorp makes biggest gift to Center for Economic Inclusion," 19 Jan. 2021 The enforced closure of manufacturing sites were chiefly in Mexico and China. Associated Press Staff,, "Lego sales have surged with children stuck at home, though CEO says success ‘not COVID-related’," 10 Mar. 2021

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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chiefly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for chiefly



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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Comments on chiefly

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