\ 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

Add 4-5 ice cubes to serving glass, pour in mocktail, and garnish with fresh cilantro and a mini chili pepper., "6 Mocktail Recipes That Make Happy Hour Way Healthier," 12 July 2018 Shatynski grows rhubarb, chili peppers and olive trees in containers. Dawn Standke,, "Tally up your garden’s earth friendliness," 12 July 2018 For Nautilus, writer Andrew Leonard looks for answers in chili science and the ways the pepper may have traveled from the New World to Europe to China. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Some Like It Hot," 12 July 2018 Wienerschnitzel: Through July 31, get $1 off chili cheese fries or a chili dog and small fries for $1.99 with coupons at Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Fry Day is Friday! Where to score free french fries and deals," 12 July 2018 Gluten, dairy, and added sugar are replaced with fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins in easy-to-follow recipes such as salmon with cilantro lime sauce and chipotle turkey chili with cucumber sumac salad. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "5 New Healthy Meal-Delivery Programs, Just In Time for Summer," 11 July 2018 The chili pepper rating is meant to reflect a dynamic/exciting teaching style. Alfred Lubrano,, "After complaints, does away with its 'hotness' ratings," 11 July 2018 The tamale was presented in the husk in which it was steamed, the masa inside clinging to a chili relleno — a flavorful little pepper tucked full of cream cheese. Alex Kiesig, idahostatesman, "'I love this city': Eat your way through the Capital City Public Market," 6 July 2018 But their snappy natural-casing franks topped with onions, mustard and chili-like Coney sauce are a decidedly Midwestern creation. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "10 iconic American foods for Fourth of July and the best places to get them in Phoenix," 3 July 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

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

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).


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