These adjectives refer to what is first in rank or in importance. Chief applies to a person of the highest authority: a chief magistrate. Used figuratively, chief implies maximum importance or value: her chief joy.Principal applies to someone or something of the first order in power or significance: their principal source of entertainment.Main applies to what exceeds others in extent, size, or importance: the main building on the campus.Leading suggests personal magnetism, a record of achievement, or capacity for influencing others: one of the leading physicians of the city.Foremost emphasizes the sense of having forged ahead of others: the foremost research scientist of the day.Primary stresses first in the sense of origin, sequence, or development: primary school. It can also mean first in the sense of “fundamental”: the primary function of this machine.Prime applies to what is first in comparison with others and to what is of the best quality: a theory of prime significance; a prime Burgundy.
But hunger has numerous and complicated causes and can only be eliminated by addressing the chief ones.
The conversation was on the chief topic of the day: the illness of the wealthy and celebrated beau of Catherine's day, Count Bezukhov, and about his illegitimate son Pierre, the one who had behaved so improperly at Anna Pavlovna's reception.
But the examinations are the chief bugbears of my college life.
The chief tore out the lining and found the gold hidden beneath it.