Definitions

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

  • n. The heir apparent to an ancient Celtic chief, elected during the chief's lifetime.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The heir presumptive to a Celtic clan.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. In Ireland, a lord or proprietor of a tract of land or of a castle, elected by a family, under the system of tanistry.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The chief, or holder of the lands and honors, in certain Celtic races; sometimes, the chief's chosen successor. See tanistry.

Etymologies

Irish Gaelic tánaiste, second, tanist, from Old Irish tánaise.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Irish tánaiste ("second-in-command"). (Wiktionary)

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