\ 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 But some journalists chafe at professional restrictions against speaking their private mind in public, especially in these times of intense political rhetoric when silence feels like compliance with positions that pose harm to individual rights. Washington Post, "When free speech clashes with keeping your job," 21 Jan. 2021 But others chafe against Disney’s narrative choices. New York Times, "The Force (and a Lenient Disney) Is With ‘Star Wars’ Fan Filmmakers," 7 Jan. 2021 But others chafe at the flood of pro-Proposition 22 messaging and the role they’re expected to play. Suhauna Hussain, Los Angeles Times, "Uber, Lyft, DoorDash workers on Prop. 22: ‘I don’t want to end up on the wrong side’," 27 Oct. 2020 After the two had stopped laughing, Lindahl hung up and sketched out a no-hardware bra that would stop the bouncing, wouldn't chafe, and whose straps wouldn't slip. Julia Martin, USA TODAY, "The first sports bra was two jock straps. Meet the New Jersey women who invented it," 22 Dec. 2020 Global democracy will face continuing challenges as the recession drags on into 2021 and people chafe under pandemic restrictions. Francis Fukuyama, WSJ, "Francis Fukuyama on the State of Democracy in 2020 and Beyond," 15 Dec. 2020 At one point, Justice Alito seemed to chafe at that restriction, launching into a six-part question after the chief justice had indicated that his time was up. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "Supreme Court Skeptical of Trump’s Plan to Not Count Unauthorized Immigrants in Redistricting," 30 Nov. 2020 Under Trump, autocratic governments like Saudi Arabia escaped harsh criticism for human rights abuses and will chafe at Biden’s pledge to restore the issue to foreign policy decisions. Los Angeles Times, "The world reacts as Joe Biden becomes U.S. president-elect," 7 Nov. 2020 So many of us chafe right now at the inability because of pandemic restrictions to eat inside a restaurant or sip a coffee in a cafe or go browse the shelves of a public library. Nita Lelyveld, Los Angeles Times, "Who has it harder than the homeless when the pandemic closes indoor spaces?," 27 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Setting aside the attachment to childhood and to the suburbs in which the Butlers’ own childhoods took place, this song has Chassagne chafe at and ultimately reject the strictures of suburban life. Jack Butler, National Review, "An Ode to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs," 18 Aug. 2020 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

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

31 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chafe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for chafe



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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Nglish: Translation of chafe for Spanish Speakers

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