American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. One who is highest in rank or authority; a leader.
- n. A chief petty officer.
- n. Nautical The chief engineer of a ship.
- n. Slang A boss.
- n. Heraldry The upper section of a shield.
- n. The most important or valuable part.
- adj. Highest in rank, authority, or office.
- adj. Most important or influential. See Usage Note at absolute.
- adv. Archaic Chiefly.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A head; the head or upper part of anything.
- n. The person highest in authority; the head or head man. Specifically— A military commander; the person who leads an army.
- n. A principal, leader, or director in general; especially, the hereditary or the chosen head of a clan or tribe: used as a title particularly for the heads of Scottish Highland clans, and for the controlling or governing heads of uncivilized or semi-civilized tribes.
- n. The principal officer of a bureau or division of the civil service, or of an editorial staff, newspaper office, mercantile establishment, or other organized body.
- n. The principal or most important part or portion; the bulk or larger part of one thing or of many.
- n. In heraldry, the head or upper part of the escutcheon, from side to side, cut off horizontally by a straight line, and containing properly a third part of the dimensions of the escutcheon. It is one of the honorable ordinaries, and is commonly considered as divided into dexter, sinister, and middle, the charges upon it being thus blazoned.
- n. The prime; the most important part.
- n. At the head; in the principal or highest position or office: as, the commander-in-chief.
- n. In heraldry, charged upon the upper part of the shield: a term generally used when the chief itself is not indicated
- n. Directly: said of land tenure: as, to hold land in chief (to hold it directly from the sovereign by honorable personal services).
- n. In direct or original procedure: as, an examination in chief. See examination.
- n. Synonyms Chief, Chieftain, Commander, Leader, Head, Chief, literally the head, is applied to one who occupies the highest rank in military or civil matters: as, an Indian chief; a military chief; the chief of a department in the civil service; a party chief. Chieftain is now mostly poetic, and is sometimes used in prose where the leadership is peculiarly suggestive of the past: as, a Highland chieftain. A commander is one who issues commands to a body or organization of a military or naval character, or has authority over it: as, the commander of the army in the East; the commander of the Asiatic squadron. A leader is the head of a party or faction, or one who conducts some special undertaking, perhaps actually going at the head: as, the leader of the House of Commons; the leader of the Conservative or Republican party; the leader of the storming party or forlorn hope; a leader of fashion. Head is applied to the chief of a tribe or family or profession: as, the head of the house of Cavendish; the head of the church; the head of the bar.
- Highest in office, authority, rank, or estimation; placed above the rest; principal: as, a chief priest; the chief butler.
- Hence— Principal or most eminent, in any quality or action; such that others (things, persons, particulars of any kind) are by comparison inferior or subordinate; most important; leading; main; most conspicuous.
- Intimate; near; close.
- Synonyms First, paramount, supreme, cardinal, capital, prime, vital, especial, essential, great, grand.
- Chiefly. Thomson.
- n. The senior general-staff officer on the staff of the commander of an army, army-corps, division, or department.
- n. The senior officer on the personal staff of a flag-officer in command of a fleet or squadron. When practicable, he is senior in rank to all other officers under command of the flag-officer.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. 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.
- n. The principal part; the most valuable portion.
- n. (Her.) The upper third part of the field. It is supposed to be composed of the dexter, sinister, and middle chiefs.
- adj. Highest in office or rank; principal; head.
- adj. Principal or most eminent in any quality or action; most distinguished; having most influence; taking the lead; most important.
- adj. obsolete Very intimate, near, or close.
- n. the head of a tribe or clan
- adj. most important element
- n. a person who is in charge
- n. a person who exercises control over workers
- 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). (Wiktionary)
- Middle English chef, from Old French, from Latin caput, head; see kaput- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“I could not be a fatriarcbal chief, but I would be z feudal chief*”
“the public approbation of the people, and declaration of the chief minister" -- later there was no "_chief_ minister," there was "parity" of ministers.”
“Tell the chief, Mavovo" (I observed he laid an emphasis on the word, _chief_) "that I _quite_ understand, and that I thank him very much for explaining things to me so fully.”
“Kathleen, the imperious editor in chief, is smarting from a betrayal in her open marriage; Arthur, the lazy obituary writer, is transformed by a personal tragedy; Abby, the embattled financial officer, discovers that her job cuts and her love life are intertwined in a most unexpected way.”
“Today, the self-described "mom in chief" is launching Let's Move, a campaign to help other parents deal with a national health crisis she describes in epic terms.”
“In the vibrantly subversive "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," the story of America's seventh commander in chief is set to a propulsive beat and packaged as a turbulent historical chapter ripe for postmodern lampooning.”
“The wonkish former House speaker and unofficial Republican pundit in chief is tossing around provocative commentary and juicy hints about running for president, making sure he's in the mix as his party begins sorting out its field for the 2012 election.”
“As Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), the chief house Deputy Whip (forget the whipping, isn't the title "chief deputy" oxymoronic -- even moronic?) put it, the threats and insults are "not something you want to lead with....”
“So the community organizer in chief is now an expert on nuclear weapons?”
“The commander in chief is suppposed to be able to make decisions, this guy is scary.”
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