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

Definition of chieftain

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

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 His father, Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke), is a pretty fun dad for a warrior chieftain, turning Amleth’s initiation ceremony into a night of silly, flatulent horseplay. New York Times, 21 Apr. 2022 Zog is for his grandfather, an Ottoman bey, or chieftain, who became prime minister of Albania in 1922 and upgraded himself to president three years later, then to king in 1928. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, 12 Apr. 2022 My father had been a leading Mountaineer and would still maintain the general superiority in skill and hardihood of the Above Boys (his own faction) over the Below Boys (so were they called), of which party his contemporary had been a chieftain. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2022 Based on the true story of Ka'iana, a war chieftain who travels to the outside world and learns more about the men invading his island home. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 12 Apr. 2022 Like when Bennett wanted to sing jazz, and Mitch Miller, the white-bread chieftain of Columbia Records, would rarely relent. A.d. Amorosi, Variety, 21 Mar. 2022 Chicago has furnished Leonard with a new breed of patron—folks like Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale), a Mob chieftain, and Roy’s son Richie (Dylan O’Brien), a poor reflection of his father’s solid self. The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2022 The game’s intro cinematic shows us several of these characters, including Hoarah Loux, chieftain of the Badlands. Washington Post, 17 Apr. 2020 Schenck’s successor, Joseph R. Vogel, declared that really, there was no need for a hands-on studio chieftain guiding production because the studio could farm out projects to independents. Thomas Doherty, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near chieftain

chief point



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Statistics for chieftain

Last Updated

5 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Chieftain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for chieftain


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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