Definition of chieftain in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtʃiːft(ə)n/


1The leader of a people or clan: powerful feudal chieftains
More example sentences
  • For centuries, they lived in clans commanded by chieftains and feuded among themselves.
  • The country had lost its charismatic leader, the clan its chieftain.
  • The annual clan banquet will be in the Manor Hotel on Saturday night where the clan chieftain will be elected.
1.1 informal A powerful member of an organization: an elite composed of corporate chieftains
More example sentences
  • In some cases, the highly compensated corporate chieftains are presiding over companies that are slashing payrolls.
  • These are messy matters corporate chieftains would much rather handle behind closed - or, even better, locked and barricaded - boardroom doors.
  • Unlike the greedy profiteers and corporate chieftains who actually made money on those stocks, we were not acting irresponsibly.



Pronunciation: /ˈtʃiːft(ə)nsi/
noun (plural chieftaincies)
Example sentences
  • Likewise, chieftaincy is a very important cultural and political institution in Africa and political leaders are not oblivious to its functions and its hold on the communities where it exists.
  • The system of chieftaincy follows the progression of paramount chief (the king), senior chiefs, sub-chiefs, headmen and sub-headmen.
  • Thus, the institution of chieftaincy and its role as established by customary law, together with its councils, is important and should be maintained and guaranteed.


Pronunciation: /ˈtʃiːft(ə)nʃɪp/
Example sentences
  • And how does it differ from sovereignty or chieftainship in practical terms (other than being easier to type)?
  • The Guarani were horticulturists organized in chieftainships based on extended kinship.
  • Through the ages trade has occurred between clans, tribal chieftainships, and kingdoms.


Middle English and Old French chevetaine, from late Latin capitaneus (see captain). The spelling was altered by association with chief.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: chief|tain

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