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Borrowed from Spanish jefe (leader, boss). Doublet of chief.


jefe (plural jefes)

  1. (US, informal) An officer with political influence; a head or chief in government, such as a sheriff, particularly where that person is Hispanic or of Mexican descent.
    • 1887, Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Central America, page 153, History Company
      Antonio Rivera Cabezas was chosen vice-jefe in March 1830.
    • 1898, Southern Pacific Company Passenger Department, Sunset, Sunset Magazines Inc. (1912), pages 313-314
      before he stepped forward uttering the stereotyped greeting, the Texan had put him down as the jefe or head man....
      Snatching up the rifle he lit out after the jefe, who had left two jumps ahead of the smoke.
    • 1900, United States War Department, Annual Reports of the War Department, U.S. Government Printing Office
      Hilario Saño, a suspect, resident here but much doubted by the jefe local, was put to the test
  2. (US) A boss in a business, company, or other organization.
    • 1982 January, George Durham, Taming the Nueces Strip: The Story of McNelly's Rangers, page 120, University of Texas Press
      “They ain’t going to deliver the cattle across.... They’ve taken too much of a beating as it is. They’ve lost their big jefe and lots of men.”
    • 1998 June, Thomas Miller Klubock, Contested communities: Class, Gender, and Politics in Chile's El Teniente Copper Mine, 1904-1948, page 147, Duke University Press
      When they were slacking off in the mine, for example, and a jefe arrived unexpectedly, they shouted loro (parrot) or fuego (fire) as warning signals.
    • 2004 December, Jeffrey Harris Cohen, The Culture of Migration in Southern Mexico, University of Texas Press
      A jefe in this sense is a mentor, a person who is often a compadre of the migrant.... In any case, a jefe is not a loan shark
    • 2005 May, Monica Rico, EMails that Go Nowhere, Google Mail.
      A jefe in this sense refers to a true boss, the leader of the household, also known as Jose Rico.




Spanish Wikipedia has an article on:
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Alternative forms[edit]


From Old Spanish xefe, from Old French chief, from Latin caput. Compare Portuguese chefe. Doublet of cabo.


  • IPA(key): /ˈxefe/, [ˈxe.fe]
  • (file)


jefe m (plural jefes, feminine jefa, feminine plural jefas)

  1. chief; president; head; leader of a business, political party, or other organization
    Synonym: superior
  2. boss; supervisor; manager
  3. (military) colonel; major; rank between captain and general
  4. (heraldry) chief
  5. (video games) boss
  6. (colloquial, Mexico) dad, father


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  • English: jefe
  • Cebuano: hepe

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]