\ ˈchi-lē How to pronounce chili (audio) \
variants: or less commonly or chiefly British chilli
plural chilies also chiles or chilis or chiefly British chillies

Definition of chili

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a hot pepper of any of a group of cultivars (Capsicum annuum annuum group longum) noted for their pungency

called also chili pepper

b chiefly British chilli : a pepper whether hot or sweet
2a : a thick sauce of meat and chilies liked to cover her spaghetti with red chili
b : chili con carne a bowl of chili also : a similar dish made without beef vegetarian chili seafood chili


geographical name
\ ˈchi-lē How to pronounce Chili (audio) \

Definition of Chili (Entry 2 of 2)

former, especially British name for Chile or for the once poorly defined Andes border region between Chile and Argentina

Examples of chili in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Of course a vinegary chili-tahini sauce is the perfect match for kale and white beans! Washington Post, "Our favorite cookbooks of 2020," 9 Dec. 2020 The lingering smell of a slow-simmered batch of chili in the house might be the best thing outside of eating a bowl. Chuck Blount,, "Chuck’s Food Shack: Chili season is here, and here are three versions of the Texas classic," 9 Nov. 2020 Earthy sweet potatoes add depth to this vegetarian chili. Ben Fogel, Sunset Magazine, "Great Chili Recipes for Both Meat Lovers and Vegetarians," 5 Nov. 2020 To measure a chili’s spiciness, the user mixes a small amount of the pepper, which can be fresh or dried, with ethanol. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Chili-Shaped Smartphone Accessory Can Measure a Pepper’s Spiciness," 12 Nov. 2020 The Calabrian chili lemon flavor is pleasantly spicy and noticeably packed with pine nuts, and the cacao almond is dark and nutty, like a less sweet (but still chocolaty) brownie. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, "These Energy Bars Are Basically a Portable Grain Bowl," 6 Nov. 2020 Generally, skiers and riders can expect more grab-and-go food options, like pre-packed sandwiches or chili in bread bowls. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah’s ski season is ‘gonna be different’ under coronavirus cloud. Here’s what to expect.," 6 Nov. 2020 This chili is spicy, thick 'n' beany and completely vegan. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "Veggie Option: Try this vegan chili recipe for chilly weather," 14 Oct. 2020 Colbert called out Cincinnati's famous chili in a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, "'Come on, Cincinnati, it's confusing.' Stephen Colbert calls out Cincinnati chili," 18 Sep. 2020

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


1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for chili


Spanish chile, from Nahuatl chīlli

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Time Traveler for chili

Time Traveler

The first known use of chili was in 1604

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Statistics for chili

Last Updated

24 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chili.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for chili


How to pronounce Chili (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of chili

: a small pepper with a very hot flavor
: a spicy dish made of ground beef, hot peppers or chili powder, and usually beans
: a similar dish made without meat


variants: also chile or chilli \ ˈchi-​lē \
plural chilies also chiles or chilis or chillies

Kids Definition of chili

1 : a small pepper with a very hot flavor
2 : a spicy stew of ground beef and chilies usually with beans

More from Merriam-Webster on chili

Nglish: Translation of chili for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chili for Arabic Speakers

Comments on chili

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