chil·​blain | \ ˈchil-ˌblān How to pronounce chilblain (audio) \

Definition of chilblain

: an inflammatory swelling or sore caused by exposure (as of the feet or hands) to cold

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Given that chilblains are caused by exposure to cold conditions, it may not surprise you to know that the first element of this word comes from the noun "chill." The second element, "blain," may be less familiar, though the word blain ("an inflammatory swelling or sore") is still used by English speakers. Both elements of "chilblain" have Anglo-Saxon roots. "Chill" comes from Old English "ciele" ("frost" or "chill"), which is akin to "ceald," an Old English ancestor of the modern "cold." "Blain" comes from Old English "blegen" (same meaning as "blain"). These two words were first brought together (as the compound "chyll blayne") in the 1500s.

Examples of chilblain in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web No one knows exactly why the new coronavirus might cause chilblain-like lesions. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, 1 May 2020 While drawing blast furnaces, coal tipples, coke ovens and other industrial structures, the 41-year-old artist suffered chilblains, a condition that causes hands and feet to itch and turn red or blue. Marylynne Pitz, The Seattle Times, 25 Dec. 2017 Seri is said to have a medical issue which gives him chilblains (painful skin inflammation) in cold weather, and is averse to moving to a cold country., 15 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chilblain.' 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 chilblain

1547, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for chilblain

chill entry 1

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The first known use of chilblain was in 1547

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Cite this Entry

“Chilblain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for chilblain



English Language Learners Definition of chilblain

: a red and painful swollen area on the feet, hands, etc., that is caused by being exposed to cold


chil·​blain | \ ˈchil-ˌblān How to pronounce chilblain (audio) \

Kids Definition of chilblain

: a red swollen itchy condition caused by cold that occurs especially on the hands or feet


chil·​blain | \ ˈchil-ˌblān How to pronounce chilblain (audio) \

Medical Definition of chilblain

: an inflammatory swelling or sore caused by exposure (as of the feet or hands) to cold

called also pernio

More from Merriam-Webster on chilblain

Nglish: Translation of chilblain for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about chilblain


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