- The head or leader of any body of men; a commander, as of an army; a head man, as of a tribe, clan, or family; a person in authority who directs the work of others; the principal actor or agent.
- The principal part; the most valuable portion."The chief of the things which should be utterly destroyed." [1 Sam. xv. 21]
- [Her] The upper third part of the field. It is supposed to be composed of the dexter, sinister, and middle chiefs.synonyms: Chieftain; captain; general; commander; leader; head; principal; sachem; sagamore; sheik.
Usage: Chief chieftain Commander Leader. These words fluctuate somewhat in their meaning according to circumstances, but agree in the general idea of rule and authority. The term chief is now more usually applied to one who is a head man, leader, or commander in civil or military affairs, or holds a hereditary or acquired rank in a tribe or clan; as, the chief of police; the chief of an Indian tribe. A chieftain is the chief of a clan or tribe , or a military leader. A commander directs the movements of or has control over a body of men, as a military or naval force. A leader is one whom men follow, as in a political party, a legislative body, a military or scientific expedition, etc., one who takes the command and gives direction in particular enterprises.
Etymology: OE. chief chef, OF. chief, F. chef, fr. L. caput head, possibly akin to E. head. Cf. Captain Chapter