From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Chieftain \Chief"tain\, n. [OE. cheftayn, chevetayn, OF.
   chevetain, F. capitaine, LL. capitanus, fr. L. caput head.
   Cf. Captain, and see chief.]
   A captain, leader, or commander; a chief; the head of a
   troop, army, or clan.

   Syn: Chief; commander; leader; head. See Chief.
        [1913 Webster] Chieftaincy
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