\ˈchi-lē \
variants: or less commonly chile or chilli
plural chilies also chiles or chilis or 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 usually chilli , plural chillies also chillis, chiefly British : 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 also : a similar dish made without beef vegetarian chili seafood chili


geographical name
\ˈchi-lē \

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

Transfer salted cucumbers into a large glass jar and add mustards seeds, turmeric, and chili flakes. Heinz® Mayonnaise, Bon Appetit, "Not Your Average French Dip," 25 June 2018 The happy hour menu will include hors d'oeuvres, venison chili, Texas caviar, pulled pork mini sliders, barbacoa mini tacos, and chips with salsa and guacamole. Emilia Benton, Houston Chronicle, "The rodeo spirit: Communities' residents get in," 12 Feb. 2018 The bitters are flavored with the spice palette used in Cincinnati chili. Polly Campbell,, "Cincinnati chili imagined as a cocktail? Why not," 16 Apr. 2018 This rustic cornbread is sturdy and dry and meant to be dunked, like say in this beef chili. Claire Saffitz, Bon Appetit, "Classic Skillet Cornbread," 19 Mar. 2018 Ole Chipotle works well in chili and pork dishes, according to Gonzalez Alcala. Megan Becka,, "Not Yo' Daddy's Mexican hot sauce heats up business at Akron's Northside Marketplace," 15 Mar. 2018 Try a pinch in chili or bolognese, in anything with beef or lamb, or even in cold weather cocktails. Paula Forbes, GQ, "The Only 7 Spices You Actually Need," 2 Mar. 2018 How did the chili pepper become so entrenched in China’s Sichuan and Hunan provinces? Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Some Like It Hot," 12 July 2018 Your 'chili pepper' rating of our 'hotness' is obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "RateMyProfessors Removes Hotness Rating," 29 June 2018

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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Statistics for chili

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for chili

The first known use of chili was in 1604

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More Definitions for chili



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

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Comments on chili

What made you want to look up chili? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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