\ ˈchāf How to pronounce chafe (audio) \
chafed; chafing

Definition of chafe

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : irritate, vex The noise of the children playing chafed her.
2 : to warm by rubbing especially with the hands
3a : to rub so as to wear away : abrade the strap chafed his skin The boat chafed its sides against the dock.
b : to make sore by or as if by rubbing The tight collar chafed his neck.

intransitive verb

1 : to feel irritation, discontent, or impatience : fret chafes at the rules
2 : to rub and thereby cause wear or irritation The baby's skin chafes if the strap is too tight.



Definition of chafe (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a state of vexation : rage the cardinal in a state of chafe sent for him— William Camden
2 : injury or wear caused by friction Gloves provide protection against chafe. also : friction, rubbing

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Synonyms for chafe

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of chafe in a Sentence

Verb When the strap is too tight, it chafes the baby's skin. If my boots aren't laced up tight they chafe. The baby's skin will chafe if the strap is too tight.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The rear part of the front fender liner may contact and chafe the brake hose, possibly resulting in a loss of brake fluid. Detroit Free Press, "Car recalls for July 2-9," 10 July 2020 After all, bras come with their own discomforts — poke-y underwires, painful compression, straps that chafe. Molly Longman,, "Is It Bad That I Haven’t Worn A Bra In 3 Months?," 28 May 2020 Increasingly, however, judges in national courts have chafed at rulings from their European peers. The Economist, "Charlemagne The wizards of Luxembourg," 21 May 2020 Apps have occasionally chafed at living in a world shaped by the app rules written by Apple and Google’s Android. Ben Brody,, "New App Lobby Group Touts Independence From Google, Apple," 5 May 2020 Everyone who is lucky enough not to have to work is chafing at being stuck at home, but one has to laugh at the idea that American Freedom is visiting the antique mall on Highway 9. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "The Deranged Civic Religion of the Lockdown Protesters," 18 May 2020 Some have chafed at shouldering that burden, decrying orders as government outreach. Anchorage Daily News, "In a coronavirus response riven by politics, masks are latest Rorschach test," 12 May 2020 But in the past, when the federal government has pointed out these vulnerabilities—and attempted to protect against them—the states have chafed and moaned. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The 2016 Election Was Just a Dry Run," 11 May 2020 But for many, the achievement was eclipsed by the theatrics of CEO Elon Musk, who has been chafing against government stay-at-home rules and the closure of Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California. Aarian Marshall, Wired, "Tesla Posts Another Profit as Musk Slams Virus Restrictions," 29 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Its highly breathable mesh fabric upper keeps feet cool, dry, and chafe-free, while the ComforDry sockliner provides cushion and drainage. Janna Irons, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Water Shoes for Beach Days, Wet Hikes, and Just Jumping in Puddles," 26 Mar. 2020 Some Nissan engineers believe Renault leans too heavily on the Japanese side’s technology expertise and chafe at the time spent accommodating their partner. Sean Mclain, WSJ, "Nissan, Renault Seek to End Infighting With New Division of Labor," 30 Jan. 2020 On Tuesday, the first formal day of the trial, the rule was already starting to chafe. Emily Cochrane, New York Times, "A Challenge for the Trial: 100 Senators Who Love to Talk, Sitting in Silence," 21 Jan. 2020 This pack is designed for women (or anyone with narrower shoulders) which means a more comfortable, chafe-free fit. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "12 Best Hiking Backpacks for Every Outdoor Adventure," 20 Nov. 2019 That was the work of high school teachers; the job at the college level was simply to separate the wheat from the chafe. Jenny Anderson, Quartz, "America’s top colleges are not the engines of social mobility they say they are," 13 Sep. 2019 But thankfully, there's a way to sort this scientific wheat from the chafe. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Why This New 16-Bit Carbon Nanotube Processor Is Such a Big Deal," 28 Aug. 2019 Stabilizing straps are also important—there isn’t a particular strap design or material that’s the absolute best, but secure construction and chafe-free material are two guidelines to buy by. Glamour, "The Absolute Most Comfortable Sandals, According to People Who Know," 23 Aug. 2019 Life for the gallery residents is timeless and pleasant, for the most part, though some do chafe under Lord Beaverbrook’s strict rules. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Meeting the People in the Paintings," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chafe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chafe


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1551, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chafe

Verb and Noun

Middle English chaufen to warm, from Anglo-French chaufer, from Vulgar Latin *calfare, alteration of Latin calefacere, from calēre to be warm + facere to make — more at lee, do

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Time Traveler for chafe

Time Traveler

The first known use of chafe was in the 14th century

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Statistics for chafe

Last Updated

17 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chafe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for chafe


How to pronounce chafe (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of chafe

: to become irritated or annoyed : to feel impatient
: to cause soreness or damage by rubbing against something (such as your skin)
: to become sore or damaged from rubbing


\ ˈchāf How to pronounce chafe (audio) \
chafed; chafing

Kids Definition of chafe

1 : to become irritated or impatient Some of the guests chafed at the sleeping arrangements.
2 : to rub so as to wear away or make sore Chains chafed the skin of the animal's legs.
\ ˈchāf How to pronounce chafe (audio) \
chafed; chafing

Medical Definition of chafe

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to irritate or make sore by or as if by rubbing



Medical Definition of chafe (Entry 2 of 2)

: injury caused by friction

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More from Merriam-Webster on chafe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chafe

Spanish Central: Translation of chafe

Nglish: Translation of chafe for Spanish Speakers

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