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 One woman testified that Jabateh murdered her husband, a village chieftain, and then delivered his heart to her ordering her to cook it as a meal for his men. Fox News, "African warlord living jailed for lying to US immigration officials asks judge to overturn 30-year sentence," 22 Jan. 2020 Against a backdrop of rising nationalism, many Indians welcome kowtowing by global corporate chieftains. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "Jeff Bezos’ Unhappy Passage to India," 23 Jan. 2020 Girl Scouts pulled blue drapes off the seven figures being dedicated Monday, including Native American chieftain Cockacoeske and Jamestown colonist Anne Burras Laydon, as the women’s names were read aloud. Sarah Rankin, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Righting ‘sins of omission’: Monument honors Virginia women," 14 Oct. 2019 Resistance was met with violence, continuing a pattern long established by ruthless native chieftains. Tom Gjelten, Washington Post, "In Latin America, colonialism’s violent, seemingly inescapable legacy," 23 Aug. 2019 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

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

10 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chieftain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 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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