Chile, Chili, Chilli, or Chilly?

by Craig Shrives

The Difference between Chile, Chili, Chilli, and Chilly

"Chile," "chili," and "chilli" are all correct spellings for the hot pepper. The spelling you should use depends on whether you are following US or UK writing convention or whether you are Hispanic.
  • "Chili" (American English) or "chilli" (British English) is a type of pepper. Many Hispanic Americans use the word "chile."
  • "Chile" (always written with a capital letter) is a country in South America.
  • "Chilly" means cold.
chili chilly or chile?

More about "Chile," "Chili," and "Chilly"

Writers sometimes confuse "chili," "chilli", and "chile" (note the lowercase "c"). All three words can be used to describe a type of pepper. The one you use depends on your regional dialect. Americans use "chili." Hispanic Americans tend to use "chile." The British use "chilli."

A Video Summary

Here is a one-minute video summarizing this lesson on chili, chilli, chilly, and Chile.

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The proper noun "Chile" is a long, narrow country stretching along South America's western edge. Being a proper noun, it always has a capital letter.

Examples of "Chile" in Sentences

Here are two examples with "Chile":
  • On 12 February 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic. correct tick
  • Chile's mines are very dangerous; the country has a lot of earthquakes. correct tick
Remember that "chile" is an alternative spelling of "chili/chilli," which is used in Spanish-speaking areas of the US. In this case, "chile" is written with a lowercase letter (unless it starts a sentence).


The noun "chili" refers to a spicy pepper.

There are three different spellings:
  • Chili (plural chilies or chilis) is the standard American English name.
  • Chilli (plural chillies or chillis) is typically used in British English.
  • Chile is of Spanish origin. It is most common in Spanish-speaking areas of the US.

Examples for the Spicy Pepper (Chili, Chilli, and Chile)

Here are three examples with each spelling for the spicy pepper:
  • Chili peppers originated in Mexico. correct tick (small American flag)
  • The intensity of the "heat" of chilli peppers is commonly reported in Scoville heat units (SHU). correct tick (small British flag)
  • From fresh, sweet cubanelles to the scorchingly hot Scotch bonnet, chile peppers come in all shapes, sizes, flavors, and levels of heat. correct tick (small American flag Hispanic)


The word "chilly" is an adjective meaning cold or cool. When used figuratively, "chilly" means unfriendly.

Examples of "Chilly" in Sentences

Here are two examples with "chilly":
  • Sweater: A garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. correct tick (Author Ambrose Bierce)
  • (Here, "chilly" is used literally.)
  • He got a chilly reception from the Republican candidate. correct tick
  • (In this example, "chilly" is used figuratively.)
Watch our video on the 10 main differences between American English and British English.

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