Hypertext Webster Gateway: "chief"

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Chief \Chief\ (ch[=e]n), n. [OE. chief, chef, OF. chief, F.
chef, fr. L. caput head, possibly akin to E. head. Cf.
{Captain}, {Chapter}]
1. 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.

2. The principal part; the most valuable portion.

The chief of the things which should be utterly
destroyed. --1 Sam. xv.

3. (Her.) The upper third part of the field. It is supposed
to be composed of the dexter, sinister, and middle chiefs.

{In chief}.
(a) At the head; as, a commander in chief.
(b) (Eng. Law) From the king, or sovereign; as, tenure in
chief, tenure directly from the king.

Syn: 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.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Chief \Chief\, a.
1. Highest in office or rank; principal; head. ``Chief
rulers.'' --John. xii. 42.

2. Principal or most eminent in any quality or action; most
distinguished; having most influence; taking the lead;
most important; as, the chief topic of conversation; the
chief interest of man.

3. Very intimate, near, or close. [Obs.]

A whisperer separateth chief friends. --Prov. xvi.

Syn: Principal; head; leading; main; paramount; supreme;
prime; vital; especial; great; grand; eminent; master.

From WordNet (r) 1.7 (wn)

adj 1: most important element; "the chief aim of living"; "the main
doors were of solid glass"; "the principal rivers of
America"; "the principal example"; "policemen were
primary targets" [syn: {chief(a)}, {main(a)}, {primary(a)},
2: (of persons) highest in rank or authority or office; "his
arch rival"; "the boss man"; "the chief executive"; "head
librarian"; "top administrators" [syn: {arch(a)}, {boss(a)},
{chief(a)}, {head(a)}, {top(a)}]
n 1: a person who is in charge; "the head of the whole operation"
[syn: {head}, {top dog}]
2: a person who exercises control over workers; "if you want to
leave early you have to ask the foreman" [syn: {foreman},
{gaffer}, {honcho}, {boss}]

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