chill·​ing ˈchi-liŋ How to pronounce chilling (audio)
: gravely disturbing or frightening
a chilling case of abuse
chillingly adverb

Example Sentences

a Southern visitor who was unused to the chilling air of a Northeast winter
Recent Examples on the Web Alon-Beck says the Holmes case will have a chilling effect on new startups seeking venture capital. WIRED, 18 Nov. 2022 Here’s how to earn your badges and become the optimal holiday shopper: Though economic uncertainty can have a chilling effect, many consumers consider gift-giving a necessity. Jaclyn Peiser, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2022 It’s chilling to think of just how much the extinction of certain species of trees could throw our world into disarray. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 13 Sep. 2022 In the first, indiscriminate, repeated online attacks created a chilling effect, curbing online conversations and speech. Maria Ressa, The Atlantic, 14 Nov. 2022 The arrests have had a chilling effect on Vietnamese civil society groups, and curtailed their ability to participate in the planning process, several observers said. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 14 Nov. 2022 This can cause a chilling effect on free speech as more people rely on creator funds and social media as a revenue stream. Ginger Gentile, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2022 Jessie Hill, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, said Monday that by banning accounts that make fun of him, Mr. Musk could have a chilling effect on speech on Twitter. Alyssa Lukpat, WSJ, 7 Nov. 2022 The demonization of government all the way down to the local level doesn’t just have a chilling effect for people inclined to public service. Time, 4 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chilling.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1815, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chilling was in 1815

Dictionary Entries Near chilling

Cite this Entry

“Chilling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


chill·​ing ˈchil-iŋ How to pronounce chilling (audio)
: very disturbing or frightening
a chilling case of abuse
chillingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on chilling

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

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

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.