Spelling Tips: Chili, Chilli or Chile?
  • 2-minute read
  • 16th July 2021

Spelling Tips: Chili, Chilli or Chile?

You may have come across different spellings for the word “chili,” including “chilli” and “chile.” But why so many spellings? And which is correct? It all depends on the dialect you’re using. Let’s look at when to use each word in your writing.

Chili (A Hot Pepper)

“Chili” is a noun that refers to type of pepper used to make food taste hot and spicy:

I use fresh chili in my curries.

Do you need to use freshly ground chilies?

It also appears in the names of foods and condiments that have “chili” in them:

I’m cooking a pot of chili con carne for dinner tonight.

That chili sauce is too hot for my tastebuds.

Many people also use “chili” as shorthand for “chili con carne”:

Have you had the chili at the new restaurant?

In all cases, though, American English uses the spelling “chili,” with one “l.”

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Red and green chili peppers.

Other Spellings: Chilli and Chile

In the US, you might also come across the spelling “chile,” especially in the American Southwest. This is based on the Spanish spelling of the word (this matches the spelling of “Chile,” the country in South America, but there is no direct connection):

That chile sauce is too hot for my tastebuds.

‘Chili” and “chile” are both accepted in American English. However, unless you’re specifically discussing South American-influenced food, “chili” is the most common spelling.

In British English, however, the standard spelling of this word is “chilli” with a double “l.” For example:

I use fresh chilli in my curries.

Do you need to use freshly ground chillies?

The spelling “chilli” is also standard in most dialects influenced by British English, including Australian English.

Summary: Chili, Chilli or Chile?

In all cases, these three terms refer to a hot pepper. However, the spelling varies depending on which English dialect you are using:

  • Chili with one ‘l’ is the preferred American English spelling
  • Chilli with a double ‘l’ is the preferred British English spelling
  • The Spanish-influenced chile is also used in the American Southwest.

As long as you stick to a single “l” in American English and a double “l” in British English, you should be able to avoid spelling errors. But if you’d like an expert to check your writing, too, our proofreaders can help! Just let us know which dialect you are writing in.

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