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 chieftainship (audio) \ noun

Examples of chieftain in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Weeks later, at another private session with corporate chieftains, Lighthizer’s indifference to concerns about the likely costs of the president’s plan to confront China left members of the U.S.-China Business Council similarly dismayed. Washington Post, "Trump’s trade war general faces moment of truth," 15 Nov. 2019 In Shanghai, that repression was launched with a bloody purge on April 12, 1927, conducted with the help of a motley army assembled by the omnipresent, triad-like Green Gang and its powerful chieftain Du Yuesheng. Mishi Saran, Quartz, "Can Hong Kong’s fighting spirit endure? An answer might lie in China’s own Communist history," 19 Sep. 2019 Similarly, presidential campaign posters for Bola Tinubu, a major APC chieftain in the south west voting bloc, have also emerged in his Lagos stronghold. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "The political calculus for Nigeria’s next presidential elections is kicking off three years early," 3 Oct. 2019 Tarfful, the Wookie chieftain, helped Yoda escape Kashyyyk when the clones turned on the Jedi. Nick Romano,, "How Jedi: Fallen Order connects to the larger Star Wars universe," 21 Nov. 2019 Prior to Turkey's creation, the Ottoman Empire — which rose in 1299, or 720 years ago — saw some tension with its Kurdish population and a period in the mid-1800s when some Kurdish chieftains revolted. Hope Yen And Calvin Woodward,, "Fact check: Did Trump hear the Islamic State leader die ‘whimpering and crying ... like a dog'? The Pentagon has no idea what he’s talking about.," 2 Nov. 2019 Religious freedom in part depends on government that keeps a local chieftain from putting your head on a spike because of your creed. Fred Bauer, National Review, "The Perils of a Dis-United States," 10 Oct. 2019 That reflects alarm among corporate chieftains at the political price of doing business in and with China, and at how much that cost might rise. The Economist, "The West is now surer that China is not about to liberalise," 14 Nov. 2019 The Saga of Hrafin Sveinbjarnarson, written down sometime in the late 1100s, tells the story of a chieftain who killed a walrus and brought its tusks and skull to Canterbury Cathedral in England. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Vikings killed off Iceland’s walruses," 4 Nov. 2019

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

5 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chieftain.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for chieftain


How to pronounce chieftain (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on chieftain

Spanish Central: Translation of chieftain

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

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