Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt
I had a reader ask me the difference between “chilly” and “chili” the other day. For the purposes of giving you your money’s worth, I’m going to go above and beyond here by exhausting all possible sources of confusion. Buckle up, buttercup.
To clear up the most obvious one first, “Chilli” (uppercase “C” with two l’s) is the professional name for Rozanda Thomas, a singer from the ’90s girl group TLC. If I learned one thing from ’90s pop music, it’s this: Don’t go chasing waterfalls.
“Chilly” is an adjective that means “cold.” It’s a mild form of cold. You might say, “It’s chilly this morning; grab your heavy jacket.” If someone describes another person as “chilly,” that would mean that person is not very friendly. The character Angela Martin from “The Office” has a chilly disposition.
A chili is a type of spicy pepper. In American English, we spell it with one “l,” while in British English the word gets two l’s. Originating in Mexico, chilis are used to add spice to food. If someone refers to “chili” as a food, they’re probably talking about “chili con carne.” In Cincinnati, people put their chili on top of spaghetti.
Chile is a skinny, squiggly country in South America. One awesome thing about Chile is that you get the best of most people’s dream vacations: mountains and beaches. Chile runs along the western edge of the Pacific Ocean on the west while also bordering the Andes mountains on the east. If you have a week to kill, go chill in Chile.
If someone asks you to “take a chill pill,” they’re probably stuck in the ’80s. In addition, they’re suggesting that you calm down! “Chill” is technically a verb that means something like to put an object in the refrigerator. “Chill” as slang gets used as an adjective and a verb, meaning to do something in an incredibly laid-back fashion.
Last but not least, Chili’s is a popular casual restaurant where some of the best episodes of “The Office” take place. One thing I appreciate most about the Chili’s logo is that its apostrophe is formed by a chili pepper. I find that apostrophes spice up any good alphabet soup.
To wrap it up, chili is an excellent food to eat on a chilly day while you dream of being on the beach in Chile (or at the bar at your local Chili’s). Good grammar is about knowing the difference between knowing your junk and knowing you’re junk.
—Curtis Honeycutt is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist. Connect with him on Twitter (@curtishoneycutt) or at curtishoneycutt.com.