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1. One who is highest in rank or authority; a leader.
a. A chief petty officer.
b. Nautical The chief engineer of a ship.
3. Slang A supervisor; a boss.
4. Heraldry The upper section of a shield.
1. Highest in rank, authority, or office: the chief scientist in the lab.
2. Most important or influential: the chief ingredients in the stew. See Usage Note at absolute.

[Middle English chef, from Old French, from Latin caput, head; see kaput- in Indo-European roots.]

chief′dom n.
chief′ship′ n.
Synonyms: chief, foremost, leading1, main, primary, prime, principal
These adjectives refer to what is first in rank, importance, or influence: his chief concern; the foremost scholar in her field; the leading cause of heart disease; the main building on campus; the primary purpose of the legislation; a prime example of wasteful spending; the principal figures in the plot.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. the post or situation of a chief
2. (Anthropology & Ethnology) the territory that a chief governs
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in classic literature ?
In cool good nature in rigid maintenance of his chiefship rights, he had smiled at Van Horn, given royal permission to his young men to sign on for three years of plantation slavery, and exacted his share of each year's advance.
Instead of being democratised, chiefship was rationalised as native "custom".
The Lord Lyon King of Arms, who regulates Scottish heraldry, has upheld a petition rubberstamping the new chiefship. John, who is the manager of the Cambusmore Estate, near Callander, Stirlingshire, said: "There has not been a chief for a very long time - over 337 years - but there is a thriving community of Buchanan clansmen, clanswomen and septs around the world.
Warner Henry Nelles had inherited a Six Nations chiefship at age 17 after the death of the former holder of the title.
All things go in pairs, or the sharks will bite: The antithetical nature of Fijian chiefship. Oceania 64(3): 197-263.
These include the weakening of chiefship during the colonial period and after independence.
Quoting an elderly woman in Bahr-el-Gazal Leonardi revealed the problems in the process of chiefship referring to how chiefs can be a form of violence in the area rather than resilience, "Count out your dead people who were slaughtered through whom the chiefship was obtained!
He covers govern-mentality in Koakoland; courts, laws, and the administration of justice; and chiefship and the post-apartheid state.
Chiefship and competitive involution: the Marquesas Islands of Eastern Polynesia.