- the chief of a clan or a tribe.
- a leader of a group, band, etc.: the robbers’ chieftain.
- (initial capital letter) Military. Britain’s main battle tank since 1969, fitted with a 120mm gun and two machine guns and weighing 55 tons (50 metric tons).
- the head or leader of a tribe or clan
- the chief of a group of people
early 14c., cheftayne “ruler, chief, head” of something, from Anglo-French chiefteyn, Old French chevetain “captain, chief, leader,” from Late Latin capitaneus “commander,” from Latin capitis, genitive of caput “head” (see capitulum). According to “Rob Roy” (1818) a Highland chieftain was the head of a branch of a clan, a chief was the head of the whole name. Related: Chieftainship.