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

For everyday affairs Mangueirenses followed the rules imposed by their chieftains. Alma Guillermoprieto, The New York Review of Books, "A Reporting Life in Latin America," 6 June 2019 The Japanese monarchy began with Emperor Jimmu, who supposedly began his empire in 660 B.C. after warring with local chieftains. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "Learn about the history—and future—of the Japanese monarchy," 29 Apr. 2019 Thus the Iranian chieftain usually known as Oxyartes, Alexander’s father-in-law, is here called Huxshiartas, and Babylon’s governor, Mazaeus, appears as Mazdai. James Romm, WSJ, "‘Soldier, Priest, and God’ Review: The Emperor Divine," 13 Dec. 2018 And the coffee chieftain is already making things happen — the two men who were arrested have agreed to meet with him. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Starbucks CEO Apologizes for "Reprehensible" Incident in Philadelphia," 16 Apr. 2018 Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national economic adviser Gary Cohn are just the latest corporate chieftains to stumble in the transition from the autonomous confines of the corner suite to the political pressure cooker in Washington. Michael C. Bender, WSJ, "Why CEOs Have Such a Hard Time Moving Into Government," 14 Mar. 2018 Photo composite: Adele Morgan/The Wall Street Journal These businesses gained exemptions after intense lobbying by corporate chieftains during six days of public hearings in August and in a flurry of letters to the U.S. trade representative. Chuin-wei Yap, WSJ, "U.S. Reliance on Obscure Imports From China Points to Strategic Vulnerability," 24 Sep. 2018 That would explain the towering sculpture in the town square, made out of scrap metal, depicting a Muisca chieftain in mid-throw. John Otis, WSJ, "Colombia Wants to Boost Its National Sport. That Might Mean Less Beer.," 4 Dec. 2018 The incumbent, President Michel Temer, is among the old-guard leaders who have become widely despised by the electorate amid mounting reports of systemic corruption by the political chieftains who have run Brasília for decades. Shasta Darlington, New York Times, "From Janitor to Chief Justice: Could Joaquim Barbosa be Brazil’s Next President?," 20 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for chieftain

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for chieftain

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

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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

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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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