1. Highest in office or rank; principal; as a chief priest; the chief butler. Gen 40:9.

Among the chief rulers, many believed on him. John 12.

2. Principal or most eminent, in any quality or action; most distinguished; having most influence; commanding most respect; taking the lead; most valuable; most important; a word of extensive use; as a country chief in arms.

The hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. Ezra 9.

Agriculture is the chief employment of men.

3. First in affection; most dear and familiar.

A whisperer separateth chief friends. Prov. 16.


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. 11.

2. The principal person of a tribe, family, or congregation, &c.

Num. 3. Job 29. Math. 20.

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.

4. In heraldry, chief signifies the head or upper part of the escutcheon, from side to side, representing a mans head. In chief, imports something borne in this part.

5. In Spenser, it seems to signify something like achievement, a mark of distinction; as, chaplets wrought with a chief.

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. 1:15.

These were the chief of the officers, that were over Solomons work. 1 Kings 9.

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.

The people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed. 1 Sam. 15.

He smote the chief of their strength. Ps. 68.

The chief of the debt remains unpaid.

CHIEF, adv. Chiefly.