chief·​tain | \ ˈchēf-tən How to pronounce chieftain (audio) \

Definition of chieftain

: a chief especially of a band, tribe, or clan

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Other Words from chieftain

chieftainship \ ˈchēf-​tən-​ˌship How to pronounce chieftain (audio) \ noun

Examples of chieftain in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Last year Vancouver Public Schools' Board of Directors voted to stop using the chieftain mascot at Columbia River High School and Minnehaha Elementary School. Fox News, "Washington state bill would ban Native American mascots at public schools," 7 Feb. 2021 The son of a wealthy chieftain in West Africa had just returned home from an apprenticeship when a raiding army attacked their village. Lindsey Mcginnis, The Christian Science Monitor, "Storied narrative’s translation prompts a fresh look at the slave trade," 1 Dec. 2020 The text that mentions Odin’s law-giving, the Ynglinga Saga, wasn’t written until the thirteenth century, by Snorri Sturluson, an Icelandic poet and chieftain. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "The Curse of the Buried Treasure," 9 Nov. 2020 Some Anchorage clients have asked the hedge fund whether the perks and privileges that come with being a Hollywood chieftain have influenced Mr. Ulrich’s call to stay with MGM, the lengthiest and largest investment in Anchorage’s history. Juliet Chung, WSJ, "It’s ‘No Time to Die’ for Hedge-Fund Manager Ulrich’s Big James Bond Bet," 11 Oct. 2020 As Hood notes, the archaeologists found no evidence clearly identifying the older man as a shaman, nor suggesting that he was sacrificed to ensure the chieftain’s safe passage into the afterlife. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Bronze Age Chieftain’s Remains Found Beneath U.K. Skate Park," 5 May 2020 The chieftain moves his extended family to the main homes of the Jerusalem village, and settles in one himself—a palace, some might call it, though there is nothing extravagant about it. Ruth Margalit, The New Yorker, "In Search of King David’s Lost Empire," 22 June 2020 Archaeologists in Spain are searching for the bones of Red Hugh O’Donnell, a 16th-century Irish chieftain who fought English rule in Ireland and died in exile. Fox News, "The hunt for Red Hugh: Archaeologists in Spain search for 16th-century Irish chieftain's bones," 2 June 2020 The latest comic book, issued last year, is the first to feature a female heroine, Adrenaline, the teenage daughter of Vercingetorix, the historical chieftain who led the Gauls to rebel against Julius Caesar. Aurelien Breeden, New York Times, "Albert Uderzo, 92, Co-Creator of French Comic Series Asterix, Dies," 25 Mar. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for chieftain

Middle English chieftaine, from Anglo-French chevetain, from Late Latin capitaneus chief — more at captain

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Time Traveler for chieftain

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for chieftain

Last Updated

22 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chieftain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for chieftain



English Language Learners Definition of chieftain

: a leader of a tribe or clan


chief·​tain | \ ˈchēf-tən How to pronounce chieftain (audio) \

Kids Definition of chieftain

: a chief especially of a band, tribe, or clan

More from Merriam-Webster on chieftain

Nglish: Translation of chieftain for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about chieftain

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