Definition of chief in English:

chief

noun

  • 1A leader or ruler of a people or clan.

    ‘the chief of the village’
    [as title] ‘Chief Banawi’
    • ‘Others have returned to Harare, claiming village chiefs are refusing to accept them because there is not enough food.’
    • ‘The main event of the weekend was the celebration and election of the clan chief.’
    • ‘From feudalism a clan chief gained the concept of absolute ownership of land, and the system of succession by primogeniture.’
    • ‘The chief sent out each leader of each group of mercenaries to alert them of the coming battle.’
    • ‘Some clan chiefs hedged their bets and sent sons off to fight on opposing sides.’
    • ‘Both parties relied on their own militias, alliances with clan chiefs and security apparatus.’
    • ‘In rural areas, political control is directed by the village chiefs or chieftainesses.’
    • ‘Ironically, the bill could strengthen the clan chief's claims.’
    • ‘The village chief says he would not give up any of his six children but says others believe they are doing their sons or daughters a favor.’
    • ‘Everybody had done exactly what the village chief had done.’
    • ‘And very few of them are presided over by local aristocrats or clan chiefs.’
    • ‘To help you, you have an ecologist, a business manager, and the chief of the village.’
    • ‘Other peoples had military leaders, tribal chiefs, or headmen, but not officials.’
    • ‘Native leaders today say the chiefs were acting as representatives of sovereign nations when they signed the document.’
    • ‘Under the clan system they were pressed into feudal military service by their clan chiefs.’
    • ‘A hush descended on the crowd as the village chief began to speak.’
    • ‘In consultation with the other women, the clan mother chose one or more men to serve as clan chiefs.’
    • ‘And even in Gaelic tales, the island earned fame for being the penal colony where clan chiefs put their enemies in exile.’
    • ‘Secondly the security forces pressure the village chiefs to cooperate and if they refuse, they'll be killed.’
    • ‘But in this country any one can come in the country waving a letter of permit from a chief whose village is along the border.’
    head, leading, principal, premier, highest, foremost, supreme, grand, superior, arch-
    leader, chieftain, head, headman, ruler, overlord, master, commander, suzerain, seigneur, liege, liege lord, potentate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1The head of an organization.
      ‘a union chief’
      ‘the chief of police’
      • ‘Governors, state school chiefs and business executives will lead the efforts in each state.’
      • ‘Council chiefs and union officials have stressed that no final figures have been agreed and that negotiations are only about to start.’
      • ‘Seventy-one vacant posts have not been filled following lengthy negotiations between the unions and city finance chiefs.’
      • ‘Police chiefs say the federal government must first secure the country's borders.’
      • ‘Union chiefs must sign a business contract agreeing to this or face the possibility of the pit closing.’
      • ‘Mickey's evidence comes from a bureau chief of one of the news organizations.’
      • ‘Residents have held numerous meetings with the college, police and council chiefs to try to resolve problems.’
      • ‘The attacks in Burnley and Nelson have been blasted by fire chiefs, councillors and police.’
      • ‘The national chief confirmed that his organization is still not sure what its final budget for this year will be.’
      • ‘Union bosses met hospital chiefs in a separate meeting earlier in the day.’
      • ‘Strikes that crippled North Yorkshire last month are expected to be repeated as union chiefs urge council workers to reject latest pay offers.’
      • ‘A tough warning is being given to rave organisers in mid Essex by police and council chiefs.’
      • ‘Union chiefs have pledged that a one-day strike by local government workers will not interfere with burials or hit vulnerable people.’
      • ‘The discussions between the unions and council chiefs are deadlocked because the employers say they cannot afford to increase their offer.’
      • ‘Union chiefs are now asking the Government to lay down tougher security guidelines for all bus operators.’
      • ‘It may have been St Valentine's Day, but there was little love lost between fire chiefs and union officials at a crunch modernisation meeting.’
      • ‘Everything else would be handed over to local Chief Constables and directly elected police chiefs.’
      • ‘Since then, a succession of mayors, city councils and police chiefs have upheld the policy.’
      • ‘Police, transport chiefs and Wigan Council have launched a pioneering scheme to kick criminals off buses.’
      • ‘Top government officials and police chiefs stand accused of being on his payroll.’
    2. 1.2An informal form of address to a man, especially one of superior rank or status.
      ‘it's quite simple, chief’
      • ‘Maybe at one time, chief, but the carpet cops have taken over.’
      • ‘Ah, it's just the main troops, Timmy, nothing to worry about, chief!’
      • ‘I know it's not my place to disagree with you, chief, but this song worries me.’
      • ‘There's a button on the left of your keyboard somewhere with the words ‘Caps Lock’ printed on it, chief.’
  • 2Heraldry
    An ordinary consisting of a broad horizontal band across the top of the shield.

    1. 2.1The upper third of the field.

adjective

  • 1Most important.

    ‘the chief reason for the spending cuts’
    ‘chief among her concerns is working alone at night’
    • ‘It spread across the kingdom to become a matter of chief concern to the government before the rebels agreed to sit down for peace talks.’
    • ‘Among the chief concerns is the bank's investment portfolio, which now makes up more than half of its assets.’
    • ‘Among the brothers' chief commissions were those from the Farnese family for decorative schemes in their palace in Rome and their villa at Caprarola.’
    • ‘The trust's dire financial position is being seen as the chief reason.’
    • ‘Thankfully, this bewitching musical is as much about sight as sound: the glittering costumes and breathtaking sets are among the chief pleasures.’
    • ‘Nor would Plato have placed the frenzy of poets and seers among the chief blessings of life, and the oracle would not have called the labours of Aeneas insane.’
    • ‘The fulfillment of God's grand design became the chief concern of human endeavor.’
    • ‘That's kind of amazing, because everybody who talks about this cites rising productivity as the chief reason.’
    • ‘While not included explicitly among the chief tasks of Soviet forestry, conservation did have a place in the new law.’
    • ‘Ornithologists tell us that habitat loss is the chief reason for this decline.’
    • ‘Obviously, location, venue, weather and cost are among the chief factors.’
    • ‘Among the chief demands of teachers is the provision of technical lab assistants, at a cost of €19 million a year.’
    • ‘Students are among the chief beneficiaries from the original website's section on festival transport.’
    • ‘The chief reason people send spam is that it's incredibly cheap to do so.’
    • ‘The chief concern among skeptics is that young people are not mature or intelligent enough to vote properly.’
    • ‘One of the chief roles of calls among songbirds is to find mates, and that takes me back to the topic of sympatric speciation.’
    • ‘Among the chief tactics of the fallen principalities and powers is the incitement of fear.’
    • ‘Then, Ford Motor Company said it ranked dead last in performance among its chief suppliers.’
    • ‘But surely the chief reason is the way America approaches newcomers.’
    • ‘But in defending his government's right-wing record, he hinted at the chief reason.’
    main, principal, most important, uppermost, primary, prime, first, cardinal, central, key, focal, vital, crucial, essential, pivotal, supreme, predominant, pre-eminent, paramount, overriding, leading, major, ruling, dominant, highest
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Having or denoting the highest rank.
      ‘the chief economist of a leading bank’
      • ‘These showed two votes in favour of a rate cut to 4.5%, including that of the bank's chief economist.’
      • ‘As heritage manager, George is the chief adviser to council.’
      • ‘There is no way that the chief adviser to the president is going to be someone out on bail.’
      • ‘‘We want you to build a palace for our King,’ said the chief adviser.’
      • ‘Between 1993 and 1996 he was the chief economist for Latin America at the World Bank.’
      • ‘He stayed with the brigade, rising through the ranks to chief fire officer, until it was disbanded when the works closed in 1982.’
      • ‘During the same period, he was chief medical adviser to the Hampshire Fire Brigade.’
      • ‘Its chief economist says the housing market is witnessing ‘a moderate and orderly slowing’.’
      • ‘He served as vice president, development economist and chief economist at the World Bank from 1988 to 1990.’
      • ‘He is second permanent secretary at the Treasury, but has also been the senior vice-president and chief economist at the World Bank.’
      • ‘Prior to joining the Cranfield School of Management he was chief economist for the NFU, where he worked for 16 years.’
      • ‘The chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Assn. is worried enough about the torrid housing market to get out of it.’
      • ‘The wool market is poised for a price rise within the next two months, according to Woolmark's chief economist.’
      • ‘He quickly moved through the ranks to become chief engineer by the outbreak of WWII.’
      • ‘Added extras include personal seminars and advice from the bank's chief economist.’
      • ‘With him he had one of his chief advisers and commanders.’
      • ‘This seems a remarkable view for a former chief economist of the World Bank.’
      • ‘You had met with their chief science adviser, who is under U.S. custody right now.’
      • ‘In finance news, interest rates aren't likely to rise before the end of the year, according to ANZ bank's chief economist.’
      • ‘I am the chief science adviser who was appointed because I can get things managed.’

Phrases

  • chief cook and bottle-washer

    • informal A person who performs a variety of important but routine tasks.

      • ‘An old woman in a small Ontario town looks back on her life as chief cook and bottle-washer for a well heeled Anglo family.’
      • ‘In addition, every article thus far has banged on about the so-called great folk music revival, of which he, as chief cook and bottle-washer of the Fence Collective, is a key player.’
      • ‘He is the chief cook and bottle-washer for Avalon Audio Services in Phoenix, and is currently pondering the idea of techno remixes of West Texas Swing music.’
  • in chief

    • At the top; in the upper part.

      See also -in-chief
      • ‘Fortunately, the President is the commander in chief, not the theologian in chief.’
      • ‘In his witness statement, which stood as his evidence in chief, he said this.’
      • ‘Remarkably that allegation was not in the evidence in chief.’
      • ‘You are the manager in chief of a public company, infamous for your undemocratic behaviour and love for power.’
      • ‘This is written by a team of experienced journalists under the guidance of the editor in chief.’
      • ‘Being the commander in chief of the Greek armies, Agamemnon's thousand-ship fleet is en route to Troy.’
      • ‘His margin of victory can be taken as evidence that the majority of Americans have confidence in him as the commander in chief.’
      • ‘Which begs the question: When did the president become theologian in chief?’
      • ‘In her evidence in chief she described the indecent assault that founded Count 4.’
      • ‘Soon after, he became editor in chief and associate publisher, positions he continues to hold today.’
  • too many chiefs and not enough indians

    • Used to describe a situation where there are too many people giving orders and not enough people to carry them out.

      • ‘There were too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’
      • ‘I blame the managers - there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’
      • ‘That's too many chiefs and not enough Indians, if you ask me.’
      • ‘Some demand arbitrary reductions in management staff, believing there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’
      • ‘It is a party of too many chiefs and not enough Indians - an institutionally top-heavy party.’
      • ‘So, I can't say anything bad, but the thing I can say is that there were just way too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’
      • ‘‘There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians,’ she said.’
      • ‘There are simply too many chiefs and not enough Indians in his side.’
      • ‘There were too many chiefs and not enough Indians in that respect.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French chief, chef, based on Latin caput head.

Pronunciation:

chief

/tʃiːf/