\ ˈchēf How to pronounce chief (audio) \

Definition of chief

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : accorded highest rank or office chief librarian the company's chief executive
2 : of greatest importance or influence the chief reasons their chief accomplishment



Definition of chief (Entry 2 of 3)




Definition of chief (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : the upper part of a heraldic field
2 : the head of a body of persons or an organization : leader chief of police
3 : the principal or most valuable part would never rest till she had read the chief of the letter to him— Jane Austen
in chief
: in the chief position or place often used in titles commander in chief

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Other Words from chief


chiefdom \ ˈchēf-​dəm How to pronounce chiefdom (audio) \ noun
chiefship \ ˈchēf-​ˌship How to pronounce chiefship (audio) \ noun

Examples of chief in a Sentence


the chief engineer on the project Her job is their chief source of income. He has many concerns, chief among them his health.


the chief of the estate was left to the eldest son our chief is out on a business trip right now
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The chief financial officer, David Mathers, has been in his job since 2010. The Economist, "Tidjane Thiam’s overhaul of Credit Suisse is paying off," 24 Aug. 2019 Disney Animation chief creative officer Jennifer Lee made the announcement at Disney’s biennial fan expo D23 on Saturday. Marc Snetiker,, "Raya and the Last Dragon," 24 Aug. 2019 Jon Snook, Hawaiian Airlines chief operating officer, said smoke was first detected on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 47 from Oakland, California, about 20 minutes prior to landing as the plane began to descend. Washington Post, "7 sent to hospital after smoke fills cabin of Hawaii flight," 24 Aug. 2019 Both will be reporting to AXS chief revenue officer Rob Sine, with focus on establishing ticketing partnerships with music organizations at all levels. Christian Saralegui, Billboard, "Executive Turntable: Moves at RCA, AXS, Columbia, Warner Records & More," 23 Aug. 2019 At one point, Duncan sought help from Kevin Eskridge, Under Armour’s chief product officer and Cavanaugh’s manger, about the hostile relationship. Mckenna Oxenden,, "Former Under Armour executive sues company and his manager for racial discrimination," 23 Aug. 2019 Jay Neal, associate vice president for academic affairs and chief operating officer for UH at Sugar Land and UH at Katy, said in a press release. Kristi Nix, Houston Chronicle, "University of Houston expands facilities, program offerings at Sugar Land and Katy campuses," 23 Aug. 2019 In a press conference, Hawaiian Airlines chief operations officer Jon Snook said that all passengers would be getting a full refund of their round-trip tickets as well as vouchers to use for future travel. Maria Pasquini,, "7 Hospitalized after ‘Smoke in the Cabin’ of Hawaiian Airlines Flight Forces Emergency Landing," 23 Aug. 2019 No explicit ransom demand was made, but the attack played out like many that target cities, said Matthew Leibert, Allentown’s longtime chief information officer. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Riley O’Connell, editor-in-chief of The Santa Clara Review, and dancer and poet Christina Madueño will perform at MACLA that evening. Anne Gelhaus, The Mercury News, "Fifth annual poetry festival gives South Bay voices a chance to be heard," 30 Aug. 2019 But both are extremely active on social media, and now AOC is dealing with similar complaints as those recently faced by the commander-in-chief—and raising the same defenses. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "AOC gets schooled by the same free-speech advocates that sued Donald Trump," 29 Aug. 2019 Moreover, for all Mr Trump’s sporadic boasts of being dealmaker-in-chief, his truces tend to be temporary. The Economist, "Donald Trump admits to putting the world through a “rough patch”," 29 Aug. 2019 Editor-in-chief Radhika Jones made the announcement to Vanity Fair's staff Thursday morning, at the same time announcing the promotion of Hillary Busis to senior editor. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Vanity Fair Hires Ex-Entertainment Weekly Writer Anthony Breznican as Special Correspondent (Exclusive)," 22 Aug. 2019 Holden Thorp, a chemist who held top leadership positions at two major U.S. research universities, was named today as the next editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals. Jeffrey Brainard, Science | AAAS, "AAAS names chemist Holden Thorp as editor-in-chief of Science," 19 Aug. 2019 Why shouldn’t our commander-in-chief respond in kind? Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "It’s Time for Trump to Troll China," 16 Aug. 2019 On a recent episode of The Chronicle’s flagship podcast, Fifth & Mission, food reporters Janelle Bitker and Justin Phillips joined editor-in-chief Audrey Cooper for a conversation about the Bay Area’s barbecue boom. Chronicle Food Staff,, "Recipe: Audrey Cooper’s Smoked Baked Beans," 6 Sep. 2019 But while the commander-in-chief thrashes about, something important is taking shape in his shadow — the outlines of a new conservatism inspired, or at least elevated, by his rise to power. David Scharfenberg,, "How Donald Trump just might save the Republican Party — and the country," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chief.' 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 chief


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chief

Noun and Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French chief, chef head, chief, from Latin caput head — more at head

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Dictionary Entries near chief





chief constable



Statistics for chief

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chief

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

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More Definitions for chief



English Language Learners Definition of chief

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: highest in rank or authority
: most important



English Language Learners Definition of chief (Entry 2 of 2)

: the person who is the leader of a group of people, of an organization, etc.


\ ˈchēf How to pronounce chief (audio) \

Kids Definition of chief

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the head of a group : leader the chief of police
in chief
: in the highest ranking position or place editor in chief



Kids Definition of chief (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : highest in rank or authority chief executive
2 : most important : main a chief reason

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More from Merriam-Webster on chief

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chief

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chief

Spanish Central: Translation of chief

Nglish: Translation of chief for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chief for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about chief

Comments on chief

What made you want to look up chief? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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