Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of chief
Meaning of chief by Wiktionary Dictionary



    From Middle English, from Old French chief ( “leader” ), from Late Latin capum ( “head” ) ( from which also captain, chieftain ), from Latin caput ( “head” ) ( English cap ( “head covering” ) ), from Proto-Indo-European *kauput- ( English head ) .


    • IPA: /tʃiːf/
    • Rhymes: -iːf


    chief ( plural: chiefs )

    1. A leader or head of a group of people, organisation, etc. [from 13th c.]
      • 1994, Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus 2010, p. 4:
        My father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a chief by both blood and custom .
    2. ( heraldry ) The top part of a shield or escutcheon. [from 15th c.]
      • 1889, Charles Norton Elvin, A Dictionary of Heraldry:
        When the Chief is Charged with any figure, in blazon it is said to be "On a Chief" .
    3. A head officer in a department, organization etc.; a boss. [from 17th c.]
      All firefighters report to the fire chief .
    4. An informal address to an equal .
      Hey, chief .


    • See also Wikisaurus:boss

    Related terms


    chief ( not comparable )

    1. Primary; principal .
      Negligence was the chief cause of the disaster .

    See also



    • fiche

Explanation of chief by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. most important element

    2. the chief aim of living
    1. a person who exercises control over workers

    2. a person who is in charge

    3. the head of a tribe or clan

    Definition of chief by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Chief ( chēn ), n. [OE. chief, chef, OF. chief, F. chef, fr. L. caput head, possibly akin to E. head. Cf. Captain, Chapter]
      1. The head or leader of any body of men; a commander, as of an army; a head man, as of a tribe, clan, or family; a person in authority who directs the work of others; the principal actor or agent.

      2. The principal part; the most valuable portion.

      The chief of the things which should be utterly destroyed. 1 Sam. xv. 21

      3. ( Her. ) The upper third part of the field. It is supposed to be composed of the dexter, sinister, and middle chiefs.

      In chief. At the head; as, “a commander in chief”. ( Eng. Law ) From the king, or sovereign; as, “tenure in chief, tenure directly from the king”.

      Syn. -- Chieftain; captain; general; commander; leader; head; principal; sachem; sagamore; sheik. -- Chief, chieftain, Commander, Leader. These words fluctuate somewhat in their meaning according to circumstances, but agree in the general idea of rule and authority. The term chief is now more usually applied to one who is a head man, leader, or commander in civil or military affairs, or holds a hereditary or acquired rank in a tribe or clan; as, the chief of police; the chief of an Indian tribe. A chieftain is the chief of a clan or tribe , or a military leader. A commander directs the movements of or has control over a body of men, as a military or naval force. A leader is one whom men follow, as in a political party, a legislative body, a military or scientific expedition, etc., one who takes the command and gives direction in particular enterprises.

    2. Chief, a.
      1. Highest in office or rank; principal; head. “Chief rulers.” John. xii. 42.

      2. Principal or most eminent in any quality or action; most distinguished; having most influence; taking the lead; most important; as, “the chief topic of conversation; the chief interest of man”.

      3. Very intimate, near, or close. [Obs.]

      A whisperer separateth chief friends. Prov. xvi. 28.

      Syn. -- Principal; head; leading; main; paramount; supreme; prime; vital; especial; great; grand; eminent; master.