Usage Czech, Danish, English, Finnish, Georgian, German, Hungarian, Luxembourgish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish
Pronounced Pron. CHI-leh(Czech) CHIL-ee(English) SHEE-leh(Finnish) CHEE-leh(Finnish, Hungarian, Polish, Spanish) CHEE-LEH(Georgian) CHEE-lə(German) KHEE-lə(German) SHEE-lee(Brazilian Portuguese) [key·IPA]
Other Forms FormsGeorgian variant transcription: Č'ile
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Meaning & History
From the name of the country in South America.There are various theories about the origin of the word Chile. According to 17th-century Spanish chronicler Diego de Rosales,13 the Incas called the valley of the Aconcagua "Chili" by corruption of the name of a Picunche tribal chief ("cacique") called Tili, who ruled the area at the time of the Incan conquest in the 15th century. Another theory points to the similarity of the valley of the Aconcagua with that of the Casma Valley in Peru, where there was a town and valley named Chili.Other theories say Chile may derive its name from a Native American word meaning either "ends of the earth" or "sea gulls"; from the Mapuche word chilli, which may mean "where the land ends;" or from the Quechua chiri, "cold", or tchili, meaning either "snow" or "the deepest point of the Earth". Another origin attributed to chilli is the onomatopoeic cheele-cheele—the Mapuche imitation of the warble of a bird locally known as trile.The Spanish conquistadors heard about this name from the Incas, and the few survivors of Diego de Almagro's first Spanish expedition south from Peru in 1535–36 called themselves the "men of Chilli". Ultimately, Almagro is credited with the universalization of the name Chile, after naming the Mapocho valley as such. The older spelling "Chili" was in use in English until at least 1900 before switching to "Chile".