From Middle English cheveteyn, cheftayne, a variant of Old French chevetaine, from Late Latin capitaneus (English captain), from Latin caput (“head”), from Proto-Indo-European *kauput- (English head). Doublet of captain.
chieftain (plural chieftains)
- A leader of a clan or tribe.
- 1970, Kazimierz Godłowski, “The chronology of the Late Roman and early migration periods in Central Europe”, in Acta scientiarum litterarumque: Schedae archeologicae, Nakładem Uniwersytetu Jagiellonśkiego, page 22:
- They were probably the work of individual craftsmen working to meet the chieftains' needs. Their place in the chronology of the big cemeteries is indicated by the less richly-decorated double-springed bronze brooches which are found here.
- A leader of a group.
- The robber chieftain divided up the spoils.
- (A very powerful person): chief, big gun, big shot, big wheel, bigwig, boss, employer, foreman, head, heid bummer, leader, mandarin, manager, mover and shaker, top banana, top dog, tycoon