Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A chief of a Native American tribe or confederation, especially an Algonquian chief.
  • n. A member of the ruling council of the Iroquois confederacy.
  • n. A high official of the Tammany Society, a political organization in New York City.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A chief of a tribe of the American Natives; a sagamore.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A chief of a tribe of the American Indians; a sagamore.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A chief among some tribes of American Indians; a sagamore.
  • n. One of a body of high officials in the Tammany Society of New York city. The sachems proper number twelve, and the head of the society is styled grand sachem.
  • n. An American hesperiid butterfly, Hylephila campestris, which occurs throughout the eastern two thirds of the United States. Its larvæ feed on grasses. It was formerly known under the specific name of huron, which probably gave rise to the popular name of sachem.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a chief of a North American tribe or confederation (especially an Algonquian chief)
  • n. a political leader (especially of Tammany Hall)

Etymologies

Of Massachusett origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in the 1620s. From Narragansett sachem; compare Lenape sakima ("chief"), Mi'kmaq saqamaw ("chief"). (Wiktionary)

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