chill·​ing | \ ˈchi-liŋ How to pronounce chilling (audio) \

Definition of chilling

: gravely disturbing or frightening a chilling case of abuse

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Other Words from chilling

chillingly \ ˈchi-​liŋ-​lē How to pronounce chillingly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for chilling


bitter, bleak, chill, chilly, nipping, nippy, raw, sharp

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Examples of chilling in a Sentence

a Southern visitor who was unused to the chilling air of a Northeast winter

Recent Examples on the Web

The most chilling scene in the early new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale comes when a 15-year-old Econowife, Eden (Sydney Sweeney), shyly tells June (Elisabeth Moss) that her new husband refuses to lie with her. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Handmaid's Tale and the Suffering of Women," 25 Apr. 2018 While there has been much less warm air courtesy of a jet stream flowing down from Canada this year, a colder-than-normal Lake Michigan has also had a chilling effect. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brrrr. Lake Michigan's surface temperature is 7 degrees colder than normal for this time of year," 20 June 2019 Others, of all political views, have objected to the OSC's unclear and unevenly applied rules which have a chilling effect on free speech for all federal employees. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Federal watchdog recommends Kellyanne Conway be removed from job over repeat Hatch Act violations," 13 June 2019 Does Vladimir Putin not worry about the chilling effect that arrests like Michael Calvey’s will have on Western investment in Russia? The New York Review of Books, "Amy Knight," 21 Mar. 2019 Jurors and spectators viewed a horrific doorbell video that captured the attack, which also could be heard in two chilling 911 calls that were played during the trial. Elizabeth Zavala, San Antonio Express-News, "Woman convicted in pit bull attack formally sentenced," 19 Mar. 2018 The threat of having to face retribution on the mainland could also have a chilling effect, and silence the full-throated criticisms of the Communist regime that frequently ring out at protests. Laignee Barron / Hong Kong, Time, "30 Years Later, Hong Kong Still Harbors the Spirit of Tiananmen," 4 June 2019 But some analysts said his surprise detention might have a chilling effect on Venezuela’s opposition. Aritz Parra, The Seattle Times, "Venezuela’s ex-spy chief arrested in Madrid on US warrant," 13 Apr. 2019 The group also makes the case that the ban could have a chilling impact on the tech sector in Massachusetts and across the country. Jon Chesto,, "Mass. tech leaders take stand against Trump’s travel ban," 24 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of chilling

1815, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for chilling

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for chilling

The first known use of chilling was in 1815

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More Definitions for chilling



English Language Learners Definition of chilling

: very disturbing or frightening


chill·​ing | \ ˈchi-liŋ How to pronounce chilling (audio) \

Kids Definition of chilling

: very upsetting or frightening But nearly every book mentioned one chilling story …— Ann M. Martin, Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation

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