From Middle English 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 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
A leader of a clan or tribe
A leader of a group, e.g. a robbers' chieftain
The name of a British military tank