adjective, chill·i·er, chill·i·est.

mildly cold or producing a sensation of cold; causing shivering; chill: a chilly breeze.
feeling cold; sensitive to cold: Her hands were chilly.
without warmth of feeling; cool: a chilly reply.
producing or likely to produce a feeling of fear; frightening: He told a chilly story of ghosts and murder.


Also chill·i·ly. in a chill manner: The wind blew chilly.

Origin of chilly

First recorded in 1560–70; chill + -y1
Related formschill·i·ness, noun
Can be confusedChile chili chilly

Synonym study

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

Examples from the Web for chilly

Contemporary Examples of chilly

Historical Examples of chilly

  • The short spring day was over, and the chilly night was setting in.

  • The rehearsals were so bad that Duquesnel and Chilly were in despair.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Chilly kept his word, and brought an action against me and the Comdie.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • But I fear it may be chilly outside; and besides, where could I go in the middle of the night?

  • It was a chilly night, and the fire in the widow's parlour had burnt low.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for chilly


adjective -lier or -liest

causing or feeling cool or moderately cold
without warmth; unfriendly
(of people) sensitive to cold
Derived Formschilliness, noun
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 chilly

1560s, "causing a sensation of cold," from chill (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "feeling coldish" is attested from 1610s; figurative use is recorded by 1841. Related: Chilliness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper