\ 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 Four Democratic candidates have been chafing in the Senate chamber rather than campaigning. Author: Lisa Mascaro, Eric Tucker, Zeke Miller, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump acquittal now likely Wednesday as Senate rejects witnesses in trial," 31 Jan. 2020 Some university presidents and scientists, however, have chafed at the growing suspicion cast toward Chinese researchers and even American academics of Chinese descent., "Chinese medical student accused of trying to smuggle cancer research material out of Boston - The Boston Globe," 1 Jan. 2020 Even his own colleagues have chafed at his aggressive approach to China and have at times tried to block Mr. Navarro’s access to the president. New York Times, "Peter Navarro, Trump’s Trade Warrior, Has Not Made His Peace With China," 26 Dec. 2019 There are a lot of things to love about summertime, but chafing isn’t one of them. Dr. Roshini Raj,, "How to Avoid Thigh Chafing This Summer," 12 June 2019 Had Downhill looked halfway competent its shortcomings might not chafe quite so much, but almost every shot feels just a little off, every composition oddly clumsy. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Downhill': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 In the early 20th century, historian Carter G. Woodson chafed at the world’s silence on black achievement. National Geographic, "This courageous historian fought to make Black History Month possible," 24 Jan. 2020 As a result, Icelanders often chafe under external pressure. Joe Roman, The Conversation, "Iceland didn’t hunt any whales in 2019 – and public appetite for whale meat is fading," 21 Jan. 2020 But the former chief executive, who had once traveled the globe as easily as most people go to the corner market, chafed at the unaccustomed restrictions on his movements, according to people familiar with his thinking. Ben Dooley, New York Times, "Carlos Ghosn Flirted With Hollywood, Then Delivered a Plot Twist," 2 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Get ahead of the rub by wearing these $12 anti-chafe bands. Mona Gohara, Good Housekeeping, "How to Prevent and Treat That Annoying Rash Between Your Thighs," 6 July 2018 Some veterans of the Trump White House say the president chafes under the sort of hierarchical structure that Mr. Kelly sought to create, preferring to consult with friends and associates on his own timetable. Peter Nicholas, WSJ, "Trump Consults on Successors for Chief of Staff John Kelly," 28 June 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

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chafe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chafe

Spanish Central: Translation of chafe

Nglish: Translation of chafe for Spanish Speakers

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