• Chef


    • IPA: /ʃɛf/
    • Rhymes: -ɛf


    Borrowing from fr chef (from the positions of chef d'office and chef de cuisine),

    "chef, n." in the Oxford English Dictionary.

    from Old French chief ("head, leader") (English chief), from Late Latin capum ("head") (from which also captain, chieftain), from Latin caput ("head") (English cap ("head covering")), from Proto-Indo-European *kauput- (English head).

    Full definition of chef



    (plural chefs)
    1. The presiding cook in the kitchen of a large household
      • <1845, R. H. Barham, Blasphemer's Warning in Ingoldsby Legends (1847), 3rd Ser., 245The Chef's peace of mind was restor'd, And in due time a banquet was placed on the board.
    2. The head cook of a restaurant or other establishment
      • 1849, Thackeray, Pendennis (1850), I. xxviii. 266The angry little chef of Sir Francis Clavering's culinary establishment.
    3. Any cook
      • Kiss the chef

    Usage notes

    When used in reference to a cook with no sous chefs or other workers beneath him, the term is connotes a certain degree of prestige—whether culinary education or ability—distinguishing the chef from a “cook”. As a borrowing, chef was originally italicized, but such treatment is now obsolete.



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