a person or thing that chills.
Informal. a frightening or suspenseful story or film; melodrama.
a device for cooling or refrigerating.

Origin of chiller

First recorded in 1790–1800; chill + -er1




coldness, especially a moderate but uncomfortably penetrating coldness: the chill of evening.
a sensation of cold, usually with shivering: She felt a slight chill from the open window.
a feeling of sudden fear, anxiety, or alarm.
sudden coldness of the body, as during the cold stage of an ague: fevers and chills.
a depressing influence or sensation: His presence cast a chill over everyone.
lack of warmth of feeling; unfriendliness; coolness.
Foundry. an inserted object or a surface in a mold capable of absorbing large amounts of heat, used to harden the surface of a casting or to increase its rate of solidification at a specific point.


moderately cold; tending to cause shivering; chilly: a chill wind.
shivering with or affected by cold; chilly.
depressing or discouraging: chill prospects.
Slang. cool(def 14).
unduly formal; unfriendly; chilly: a chill reception.

verb (used without object)

to become cold: The earth chills when the sun sets.
to be seized with a chill; shiver with cold or fear.
Foundry. (of a casting) to become hard on the surface by contact with a chill or chills.
Slang. to calm down; relax (often followed by out).

verb (used with object)

to affect with cold; make chilly: The rain has chilled me to the bone.
to make cool: Chill the wine before serving.
to depress; discourage; deter: The news chilled his hopes.
Foundry. to harden the surface of (a casting) by casting it in a mold having a chill or chills.
Slang. to kill; murder.

Origin of chill

before 900; Middle English chile, Old English ci(e)le, cele coolness; akin to gelid, cool, cold
Related formschill·ing·ly, adverbchill·ness, nouno·ver·chill, adjectiveo·ver·chill, verbpre·chill, verb (used with object)un·chilled, adjectivewell-chilled, adjective

Synonyms for chill

Synonym study

9. See cold. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for chiller

Historical Examples of chiller

  • They were chill, I cast no doubt: and all the chiller for the hand that chilled them.

    In Convent Walls

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • “There be chiller gear than snow, maid,” replied the mother bitterly.

  • He have took my little Zip along of his own chiller, and a' maneth to make a lady on her.


    R. D. Blackmore

  • Already the chiller mountain breezes following the heat spell were making visitors close their windows.

  • As she entered the darker tree-shadows beyond, she stopped suddenly, a chiller fear shaking her.


    Clement Wood

British Dictionary definitions for chiller



informal short for spine-chiller
NZ a refrigerated storage area for meat



a moderate coldness
a sensation of coldness resulting from a cold or damp environment, or from a sudden emotional reaction
a feverish cold
a check on enthusiasm or joy
a metal plate placed in a sand mould to accelerate cooling and control local grain growth
another name for bloom 1 (def. 9)


another word for chilly


to make or become cold
(tr) to cool or freeze (food, drinks, etc)
  1. to depress (enthusiasm, etc)
  2. to discourage
(tr) to cool (a casting or metal object) rapidly in order to prevent the formation of large grains in the metal
(intr) slang, mainly US to relax; calm oneself
See also chill out
Derived Formschilling, adjectivechillingly, adverbchillness, noun

Word Origin for chill

Old English ciele; related to calan to cool, Latin gelidus icy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for chiller



Old English ciele, cele "cold, coolness, chill, frost," from Proto-Germanic *kal- "to be cold," from PIE root *gel- "cold" (see cold). According to OED, the word seems to have been obsolete after c.1400 (displaced by cold) and the modern use is a back-formation since c.1600 from the verb.



late 14c., intransitive, "to feel cold, grow cold;" c.1400, transitive, "to make cold," from chill (n.). Related: Chilled; chilling; chillingly. Figurative use from late 14c. Meaning "hang out" first recorded 1985; from earlier chill out "relax" (1979).

Sheila E. sizzles in the new flick, Krush Groove, but some New York critics couldn't groove with it because many of the terms are unfamiliar to them. Examples: breakin' out (slang for leaving), chill (for cool down) and death (for something that's really good). ["Jet," Nov. 11, 1985]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

chiller in Medicine




A feeling of cold, with shivering and pallor, sometimes accompanied by an elevation of temperature in the interior of the body.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.