Meaning of tanist in English:


Pronunciation /ˈtanɪst/


  • The heir apparent to a Celtic chief, typically the most vigorous adult of his kin, elected during the chief's lifetime.

    ‘While it was not the rule for the king to be killed by his tanist, it was not uncommon either.’
    • ‘Following the tanist in the hierarchy of the clan is the commander or military leader.’
    • ‘The chief usually named the tanist while he was living, and the individual bore the title during the remaining lifetime of the chief.’
    • ‘The clan organization consisted of the chief, the tanist, the chieftains, the captain, the daoin'-uaisle - the gentlemen, and the general body of the clan.’
    • ‘The tanist shall receive the ancient and honorable coronet of the Principality according to the traditions of the Principality.’


Mid 16th century from Irish, Scottish Gaelic tánaiste, literally ‘second in excellence’.