Definition of chief in English:

chief

noun

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

    ‘the chief of the village’
    ‘the Tlingit chief’
    [as title] ‘an island where Chief Seattle was born’
    • ‘In consultation with the other women, the clan mother chose one or more men to serve as clan chiefs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some clan chiefs hedged their bets and sent sons off to fight on opposing sides.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To help you, you have an ecologist, a business manager, and the chief of the village.’
    • ‘Everybody had done exactly what the village chief had done.’
    • ‘Others have returned to Harare, claiming village chiefs are refusing to accept them because there is not enough food.’
    • ‘And very few of them are presided over by local aristocrats or clan chiefs.’
    • ‘The chief sent out each leader of each group of mercenaries to alert them of the coming battle.’
    • ‘And even in Gaelic tales, the island earned fame for being the penal colony where clan chiefs put their enemies in exile.’
    • ‘Ironically, the bill could strengthen the clan chief's claims.’
    • ‘Under the clan system they were pressed into feudal military service by their clan chiefs.’
    • ‘Secondly the security forces pressure the village chiefs to cooperate and if they refuse, they'll be killed.’
    • ‘Both parties relied on their own militias, alliances with clan chiefs and security apparatus.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In rural areas, political control is directed by the village chiefs or chieftainesses.’
    • ‘From feudalism a clan chief gained the concept of absolute ownership of land, and the system of succession by primogeniture.’
    • ‘The main event of the weekend was the celebration and election of the clan chief.’
    • ‘A hush descended on the crowd as the village chief began to speak.’
    head, leading, principal, premier, highest, foremost, supreme, grand, superior, arch-
    leader, chieftain, head, headman, ruler, overlord, master, commander, suzerain, seigneur, liege, liege lord, potentate
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    1. 1.1 The person with the highest rank in an organization.
      ‘a bureau chief’
      ‘the chief of police’
      • ‘Council chiefs and union officials have stressed that no final figures have been agreed and that negotiations are only about to start.’
      • ‘Residents have held numerous meetings with the college, police and council chiefs to try to resolve problems.’
      • ‘Everything else would be handed over to local Chief Constables and directly elected police chiefs.’
      • ‘Governors, state school chiefs and business executives will lead the efforts in each state.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Top government officials and police chiefs stand accused of being on his payroll.’
      • ‘The discussions between the unions and council chiefs are deadlocked because the employers say they cannot afford to increase their offer.’
      • ‘Mickey's evidence comes from a bureau chief of one of the news organizations.’
      • ‘Union bosses met hospital chiefs in a separate meeting earlier in the day.’
      • ‘The national chief confirmed that his organization is still not sure what its final budget for this year will be.’
      • ‘The attacks in Burnley and Nelson have been blasted by fire chiefs, councillors and police.’
      • ‘Seventy-one vacant posts have not been filled following lengthy negotiations between the unions and city finance chiefs.’
      • ‘Union chiefs must sign a business contract agreeing to this or face the possibility of the pit closing.’
      • ‘Police chiefs say the federal government must first secure the country's borders.’
      • ‘Police, transport chiefs and Wigan Council have launched a pioneering scheme to kick criminals off buses.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Since then, a succession of mayors, city councils and police chiefs have upheld the policy.’
      • ‘Union chiefs have pledged that a one-day strike by local government workers will not interfere with burials or hit vulnerable people.’
      • ‘Union chiefs are now asking the Government to lay down tougher security guidelines for all bus operators.’
      head, principal, chief executive, executive, president, chair, chairman, chairwoman, chairperson, governor, director, administrator, manager, manageress, superintendent, foreman, forewoman, controller, overseer
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 An informal form of address, especially to someone of superior rank or status.
      ‘it's quite simple, chief’
      • ‘Maybe at one time, chief, but the carpet cops have taken over.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ah, it's just the main troops, Timmy, nothing to worry about, chief!’
  • 2Heraldry
    An ordinary consisting of a broad horizontal band across the top of the shield.

    1. 2.1 The upper third of the field.

adjective

  • 1Most important.

    ‘the chief reason for the spending cuts’
    ‘chief among her concerns is working alone at night’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That's kind of amazing, because everybody who talks about this cites rising productivity as the chief reason.’
    • ‘One of the chief roles of calls among songbirds is to find mates, and that takes me back to the topic of sympatric speciation.’
    • ‘Thankfully, this bewitching musical is as much about sight as sound: the glittering costumes and breathtaking sets are among the chief pleasures.’
    • ‘Obviously, location, venue, weather and cost are among the chief factors.’
    • ‘Ornithologists tell us that habitat loss is the chief reason for this decline.’
    • ‘But in defending his government's right-wing record, he hinted at the chief reason.’
    • ‘The chief reason people send spam is that it's incredibly cheap to do so.’
    • ‘The trust's dire financial position is being seen as the chief reason.’
    • ‘The chief concern among skeptics is that young people are not mature or intelligent enough to vote properly.’
    • ‘Students are among the chief beneficiaries from the original website's section on festival transport.’
    • ‘But surely the chief reason is the way America approaches newcomers.’
    • ‘Among the brothers' chief commissions were those from the Farnese family for decorative schemes in their palace in Rome and their villa at Caprarola.’
    • ‘While not included explicitly among the chief tasks of Soviet forestry, conservation did have a place in the new law.’
    • ‘Then, Ford Motor Company said it ranked dead last in performance among its chief suppliers.’
    • ‘Among the chief tactics of the fallen principalities and powers is the incitement of fear.’
    • ‘Among the chief concerns is the bank's investment portfolio, which now makes up more than half of its assets.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The fulfillment of God's grand design became the chief concern of human endeavor.’
    • ‘Among the chief demands of teachers is the provision of technical lab assistants, at a cost of €19 million a year.’
    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. 1.1 Having or denoting the highest rank or authority.
      ‘the government's chief adviser’
      • ‘‘We want you to build a palace for our King,’ said the chief adviser.’
      • ‘The wool market is poised for a price rise within the next two months, according to Woolmark's chief economist.’
      • ‘You had met with their chief science adviser, who is under U.S. custody right now.’
      • ‘Added extras include personal seminars and advice from the bank's chief economist.’
      • ‘As heritage manager, George is the chief adviser to council.’
      • ‘Its chief economist says the housing market is witnessing ‘a moderate and orderly slowing’.’
      • ‘There is no way that the chief adviser to the president is going to be someone out on bail.’
      • ‘In finance news, interest rates aren't likely to rise before the end of the year, according to ANZ bank's chief economist.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He is second permanent secretary at the Treasury, but has also been the senior vice-president and chief economist 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.’
      • ‘He served as vice president, development economist and chief economist at the World Bank from 1988 to 1990.’
      • ‘He quickly moved through the ranks to become chief engineer by the outbreak of WWII.’
      • ‘Between 1993 and 1996 he was the chief economist for Latin America at the World Bank.’
      • ‘With him he had one of his chief advisers and commanders.’
      • ‘During the same period, he was chief medical adviser to the Hampshire Fire Brigade.’
      • ‘These showed two votes in favour of a rate cut to 4.5%, including that of the bank's chief economist.’
      • ‘This seems a remarkable view for a former chief economist of the World Bank.’
      • ‘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.

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

    • Too many people giving orders and not enough people to carry them out.

      • ‘Some demand arbitrary reductions in management staff, believing there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’
      • ‘There were too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’
      • ‘There are simply too many chiefs and not enough Indians in his side.’
      • ‘I blame the managers - there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’
      • ‘‘There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians,’ she said.’
      • ‘That's too many chiefs and not enough Indians, if you ask me.’
      • ‘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 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

/CHēf/