CHIEF (from Fr. chef, head, Lat. caput), the head or upper part of anything, and so, in heraldry, the upper part of the escutcheon, occupying one-third of the whole. When applied to a leading personage, a head man or one having the highest authority, the term chief or chieftain (Med. Lat. capitanus, O. Fr. chevetaine) is principally confined to the leader of a clan or tribe. The phrase "in chief" (Med. Lat. in capite) is used in feudal law of the tenant who holds his fief direct from the lord paramount (see Feudalism).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)