- A moderate but penetrating coldness.
- A sensation of coldness, often accompanied by shivering and pallor of the skin.
- A checking or dampening of enthusiasm, spirit, or joy: bad news that put a chill on the celebration.
- A sudden numbing fear or dread.
- Moderately cold; chilly: a chill wind.
- Not warm and friendly; distant: a chill greeting.
- Discouraging; dispiriting: “Chill penury repressed their noble rage” (Thomas Gray).
, chills verb, transitive
- To affect with or as if with cold.
- To lower in temperature; cool.
- To make discouraged; dispirit.
- Metallurgy To harden (a metallic surface) by rapid cooling.
- To be seized with cold.
- To become cold or set: jelly that chills quickly.
- Metallurgy To become hard by rapid cooling.
a. To calm down or relax. Often used with out.
b. To pass time idly; loiter. Often used with out.
c. To keep company; see socially. Often used with out.
Origin: Middle English chile
Origin: , from Old English cele; see gel- in Indo-European roots
Related Forms:Our Living Language
In the 1980s and 1990s, chill
gained currency as a slang term meaning “to relax, calm down.” It is first recorded in 1979 and comes from Black English slang, which has frequently been a source of slang and informal words in Standard English, often through the medium of various African-American musical styles (in this case, rap and hip-hop). In fact, the word chill
has had several incarnations as a slang term both inside and outside Black English. An older slang sense, recorded first in the 1870s, has been “to lose interest (in something), sour (on something).” Since the late 1920s it has also been used transitively to mean “to quash” and even “to kill.” The recent use in the sense “to calm down” is another example of slang's innovativeness: English has always used words referring to heat and cold metaphorically to refer to emotions, and has used cool
to refer to calmness since Old English times. Chill
is a novel way of saying cool down,
an old metaphor. The semantic evolution of chill
continues as this is being written; the new sense of “to relax” has even more recently been extended to mean “to relax among friends, socialize.” Chill
thus offers a good example of how living languages are constantly changing in ways that are at once unpredictable and immediately comprehensible.