Definition of sachem in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈseɪtʃəm//ˈsatʃəm/


  • 1(among some American Indian peoples) a chief.

    • ‘The elder clan mothers in matrilineal Iroquois society had the power to choose the sachems, or peace chiefs, for each of their clans.’
    • ‘Each appointed a sachem and deputy to the tribal council.’
    • ‘The Hall of the Lost Tribes - a smoke-free gaming room - features the marks of sachems of thirteen extinct Connecticut Indian tribes culled from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century documents.’
    • ‘Among the Five Nations or League of the Iroquois, the sachem was a formally recognized social role, which was an elected position and, more significantly, limited to men.’
    • ‘The leading sachem Massasoit told them that the population had been destroyed by a sickness.’
    • ‘Like the sachem of the Iroquois and the Lakota of the Plains, Hawaiian chiefs, too, had to adapt to survive and compete against the European intruders, and did so with some success.’
    • ‘These issues came to a head in March 1675 when a Christian Indian informed authorities of the Plymouth Colony that the Wampanoag sachem, Metacom (‘King Philip’ to the English), was plotting all-out war.’
    • ‘He claimed that all the others in his group were burned at the stake, but that he was saved and married by a sachem's widowed daughter, whose dowry included European scalps.’
    • ‘Thus it is impossible (unless new evidence is forthcoming) to either confirm or deny the validity of this powerful and persuasive message placed in the mouth of an Indian sachem.’
    • ‘In fact there are cases where Indians cheated other Indians by claiming the rights to sell land and transferring all the land of another sachem or tribe to the English.’
    1. 1.1North American informal A boss or leader.
      ‘a Mafia sachem’
      • ‘There came a moment of extraordinary professional solidarity from the sachems of journalism in response.’
      leader, chief, boss, controller, master, supervisor, governor, superintendent, foreman, forewoman, headman
      View synonyms


From Narragansett, chief, sagamore.