\ 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

Other Words from chief


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

Examples of chief in a Sentence

Adjective the chief engineer on the project Her job is their chief source of income. He has many concerns, chief among them his health. Noun 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 Anchorage’s first chief equity officer has reached a settlement in his lawsuit against the city. Iris Samuels, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Jan. 2022 Cooper has earned the respect of patients and the physician community, said Dr. Sonal Bhakta, chief medical officer at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas. Nwa Democrat-gazette, Arkansas Online, 22 Jan. 2022 In a galaxy not so far away, Kirby currently serves as the chief medical officer at the aesthetic group LaserAway, which is about to open its 81st clinic. Rachel Schonberger,, 22 Jan. 2022 In Oklahoma, Kersey Winfree, the regional chief medical officer for SSM Health Oklahoma, said about 80% of the Covid-19 patients requiring acute care are unvaccinated. Kara Dapena, WSJ, 21 Jan. 2022 Below, both Woodard, who is also a mom of two boys, 15 and 12, as well as Christopher Lohse, a former science teacher and principal who is now chief academic officer of Teachers1on1, share pieces of advice for parents trying to help their kids. Diane Herbst,, 21 Jan. 2022 Prior to joining Issuer Direct, Pitoniak most recently served as chief accounting officer of Community Brands, LLC. Sheryl Estrada, Fortune, 21 Jan. 2022 Varghese, an Obama administration alum, joined the Biden White House after leading the President's inauguration efforts and serving as a senior adviser and chief operating officer for Biden's 2020 presidential campaign. Arlette Saenz, CNN, 21 Jan. 2022 The chief operating officer of the clinic, Marian Booker, did not respond to requests for comment. Washington Post, 21 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Harris also said this was the biggest collection of snakes the county's animal control chief, Ed Tucker, had ever encountered in his more than 30 years of experience. Stephen Smith, CBS News, 20 Jan. 2022 One mistake was not appointing a spending watchdog as FDR had with his budget chief, Lewis Douglas, who cut waste and sought efficiencies during Roosevelt’s famed first 100 days. Karl Rove, WSJ, 19 Jan. 2022 Witt is fighting Sellers, the city, its police chief and Lt. John Archibald |, al, 19 Jan. 2022 And by December, the HFPA had tapped Neil Phillips to be their first-ever diversity chief. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, 11 Jan. 2022 CBS News named Mark Lima, previously its West Coast bureau chief, to oversee its Washington bureau, part of a broadening of senior executives at the pivotal outpost. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 10 Jan. 2022 There are images of parades and outdoor gatherings from more than a century ago, and a 1930s scene straight out of Mayberry depicting Steger’s smiling police chief, two village barbers and a youngster clad in overalls. Paul Eisenberg,, 9 Jan. 2022 In March, Russia launched a massive military buildup near its border with Ukraine, prompting Ukraine’s then-military chief, Ruslan Khomchak, to warn that the Russian action threatened Ukraine. Washington Post, 8 Jan. 2022 Soon, the police chief (Rod Steiger, who won an Oscar for his performance) learns that Tibbs is actually a hotshot Philadelphia detective, and an expert in homicide, and asks him to consult. Alynda Wheat (@alyndawheat),, 7 Jan. 2022

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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Time Traveler for chief

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near chief



chief constable

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Statistics for chief

Last Updated

25 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Chief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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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 : main



English Language Learners Definition of chief (Entry 3 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

More from Merriam-Webster on chief

Nglish: Translation of chief for Spanish Speakers

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


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