\ 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

Her earlier collections featured anklets and dangling cherries, chili peppers, and shell necklaces, as well as pearls, hearts, angles, and evil eyes. Sara Radin, Teen Vogue, "Alterita Makes Jewelry That Lets You Celebrate Your Inner Child," 2 July 2019 Every other week, or whenever her grandchildren ask for more, Bok Soon visits the local Korean market and restocks her kitchen with fresh scallions, red chili peppers, Korean radish, minced garlic and, of course, napa cabbage. Lauren Kim, The Mercury News, "How kimchi expresses my grandma’s love," 21 June 2019 Zhou Juzhen, a retiree, has planted a small garden of chili peppers and green beans at its edge. The Economist, "As growth slows, the spectre of local-government debt looms once more," 22 June 2019 Mejia was out in the Coachella Valley this week doing direct outreach, passing out information on the heat protections, along with cooling neck bandanas, to workers harvesting grapes, chili peppers and lemons in the triple-digit desert heat. Julia Wick,, "Essential California: Using social media to make sure farmworkers know their rights," 14 June 2019 All are made from scratch with authentic ingredients — Thai chili peppers rather than jalapenos — and to order. Donald Liebenson, Lake County News-Sun, "Ruby of Siam brings authentic Thai cuisine to Highland Park," 12 June 2019 Try the galinha à Africana—baked chicken smothered with a savory sauce combining chili peppers, peanuts, coconut, and spices—and a bowl of caldo verde, a classic Portuguese soup spiced up with kale and Chinese sausage. Erik R. Trinidad, National Geographic, "Find traditional eats in modern Macau," 8 Apr. 2019 Add mango to frozen margaritas and rim glasses with chili-salt. Claire Perez,, "Claire's tip of the week: Say cheers to mango cocktails," 8 June 2018 Stir the corn and add the tomato and onion and cook for 3-5 minutes; add the chili salt and stir. Veronica Hinke,, "Sun's out, grills out: Suburban Chicago chefs offer tips to grill right this season," 7 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of chili


1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for chili


Spanish chile, from Nahuatl chīlli

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about chili

Statistics for chili

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chili

The first known use of chili was in 1604

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on chili

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chili

Spanish Central: Translation of chili

Nglish: Translation of chili for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chili for Arabic Speakers

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).


providing supplementary assistance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!