Definition for CHIEF


  1. A commander; particularly a military commander; the person who heads an army; equivalent to the modern terms, commander or general in chief, captain general, or generalissimo. – 1 Ch. xi.
  2. The principal person of a tribe, family, or congregation, &c. – Num. iii. Job xxix. Matth xx.
  3. In chief, in English law, in capite. To hold land in chief, is to hold it directly from the king by honorable personal services. – Blackstone.
  4. In heraldry, chief signifies the head or upper part of the escutcheon, from side to side; representing a man's head. In chief, imports something borne in this part. – Encyc.
  5. In Spenser, it seems to signify something like achievement, a mark of distinction; as, chaplets wrought with a chief. – Johnson.
  6. This word is often used in the singular number to express a plurality. I took the chief of your tribes, wise men and known, and made them heads over you. – Deut. i. 15. These were the chief of the officers, that were over Solomon's work. – 1 Kings ix. In these phrases, chief may have been primarily an adjective, that is, chief men, chief persons.
  7. The principal part; the most or largest part, of one thing or of many; as, the chief of the debt remains unpaid. The people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief the things which should have been utterly destroyed. – 1 Sam. xv. He smote the chief of their strength. – Ps. lxviii.

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