Definition of cacique in English:



  • 1(in Latin America or the Spanish-speaking Caribbean) a native chief.

    • ‘She is traditionally represented with two other figures, that of a black henchman, el Negro Felipe, and of an Indian cacique, Guaicapuro.’
    • ‘By February the Indian caciques (leaders or chieftains) saw the Spaniards were at their mercy and refused to provide any more provisions.’
    • ‘The Guarani caciques exchanged women to formalize their alliance with the Spanish against the hostile peoples of the Chaco.’
    • ‘In matters of traditional religion, which encompasses much of what white people associate with government, a cacique among the Pueblos and a kikmongwi among the Hopi have serious responsibilities to the people.’
    • ‘They lived under nine independent caciques or chiefs, and possessed a simple religion devoid of rites and ceremonies, but with a belief in a supreme being, and the immortality of the soul.’
    1. 1.1(in Spain or Latin America) a local political boss.
      • ‘Gifts of a pair of scissors or a looking glass were made to the caciques or village headmen from time to time to keep them friendly.’
      • ‘He said he had heard that nobody in the islands could stand up to the Admiral's power and so before he was deprived of his land and his authority as a cacique he wished to see the wonders of Spain.’
      • ‘Others, such as caciques, used the mission system itself to improve their material interests and cultural autonomy.’
      • ‘Tlatoani (head honcho), cacique, and caudillo - these words glisten on the pages of the derisive gubernatorial lexicon.’
      • ‘Moreover, new caciques emerged in the wake of agrarian reform, as officials of the agrarian bank and ejidal bosses entrenched themselves locally.’
      • ‘It was committed to class struggle in a country that had scarcely had a bourgeois revolution, and to political action in spite of the manipulation of elections by local landowners or caciques.’
      • ‘As in Cuba, Jamaica's inhabitants divided their island into provinces, each ruled over by a cacique assisted by village headmen or sub-chiefs.’
      • ‘A share tenant system has made most farmers captives of landlords, or caciques.’
      • ‘Many such communities are still ruled by caciques (local strongmen) according to ‘uses and customs,’ which may fly in the face of such constitutional rights as religious freedom.’


Mid 16th century: from Spanish or French, from Taino.