variants or chivvy
chivied or chivvied; chivying or chivvying

transitive verb

: to tease or annoy with persistent petty attacks
: to move or obtain by small maneuvers
chivy an olive out of a bottle

Did you know?

Chivy, which is also spelled chivvy, became established in our language in the 19th century and, at first, meant "to harass or chase." Early usage examples are of people chivying a chicken around to catch it and of a person chivying around food that is frying. The verb comes from a British noun chivy meaning "chase" or "hunt." That chivy is believed to be derived from Chevy Chase—a term for "chase" or "confusion" that is taken from the name of a ballad describing the 1388 battle of Otterburn between the Scottish and English. (A chase in this context is an unenclosed tract of land that is used as a game preserve.)

Choose the Right Synonym for chivy

bait, badger, heckle, hector, chivy, hound mean to harass by efforts to break down.

bait implies wanton cruelty or delight in persecuting a helpless victim.

baited the chained dog

badger implies pestering so as to drive a person to confusion or frenzy.

badgered her father for a car

heckle implies persistent annoying or belligerent interruptions of a speaker.

drunks heckled the stand-up comic

hector carries an implication of bullying and domineering.

football players hectored by their coach

chivy suggests persecution by teasing or nagging.

chivied the new student mercilessly

hound implies unrelenting pursuit and harassing.

hounded by creditors

Examples of chivy in a Sentence

a boss with a reputation for chivying his workers about every little thing
Recent Examples on the Web Chelsea had chivied and harried and unnerved Real Madrid, the reigning European champion. Rory Smith, New York Times, 18 Apr. 2023 For smaller losses, says David Gluckman, Lumkani’s boss, policyholders often have to be chivvied into claiming. The Economist, 22 Aug. 2019 But radium was rare and costly, with tiny quantities hoarded and chivvied between nations for experiments. New York Times, 28 Aug. 2019 After becoming prime minister in 2014, Narendra Modi chivvied bankers to open accounts for everyone. The Economist, 6 June 2019 Abloh had booked a club and chivvied the throng to get down there. Luke Leitch, Vogue, 28 Feb. 2019 The rich world should focus its attention—and resources, including charity—on chivvying them along. The Economist, 1 Mar. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chivy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


chivy, noun, chase, hunt, probably from English dialect Chevy Chase chase, confusion, from the name of a ballad describing the battle of Otterburn (1388)

First Known Use

1918, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of chivy was in 1918


Dictionary Entries Near chivy

Cite this Entry

“Chivy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


chivied; chivying
: to annoy or bother again and again about little things : pester
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