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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.


1. the post or situation of a chief
2. (Anthropology & Ethnology) the territory that a chief governs
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.
All things go in pairs, or the sharks will bite: The antithetical nature of Fijian chiefship.
These include the weakening of chiefship during the colonial period and after independence.
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, in T.
Rural Africans also voiced concerns about the interference of white officials in political matters such as succession to chiefship or the appointment of headmen, the allocation of land, and disruptions in social structures due to the increasing role played by migrant labor in the region.
2003 Chiefs, Power, and Social Change: Chiefship and Modern Politics in Botswana, 1880s-1990s.