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verb [intransitive]

to rest and relax, often by taking time away from work to do things you enjoy


noun uncountable



'Extracts from a biography of the prime minister by journalists Francis Elliott and James Hanning suggest he chillaxes during weekends at his official country residence, Chequers, by singing karaoke, playing tennis …, playing games on his iPad and partaking of several glasses of wine at Sunday lunch.'

BBC News 20th May 2012

'The sun is shining and the skies are blue, which makes a change from the weekend. I had a nice chillaxing weekend – nothing wild or exciting.'

BBC Radio 2 blogs 30th April 2012

Sometimes new words appear and there's no logical reason why – there's no gap in the lexicon, we're not attempting to describe a concept that's particularly new, it's just a purely fun, totally gratuitous bit of linguistic creativity. Given that the English language provides words and phrases like relax, rest, chill (out), take time out, put your feet up (and doubtless many more perfectly adequate expressions, those were just off the top of my head) to represent the idea of 'not working', then I'd suggest that the new verb chillax is a case in point – it wasn't really needed, but hey, it's catchy and fun.

according to biographers, Mr Cameron spends chillaxing weekends at Chequers (his country residence) doing a variety of chillaxing activities

The intransitive verb chillax is now a popular informal way of describing the action of relaxing, taking a break from the weekly grind, and possibly doing one or two things that you enjoy. Following the pattern of derivatives for the established verb relax, there's also a related adjective chillaxing (often abbreviated to chillaxin), which is used to describe any restful activity or period of time, e.g a chillaxing weekend/holiday/hobby. A gerund noun chillaxing is used to refer to the activity of taking time out, and a person who has done so and is therefore calm and rested can be described as chillaxed.

The word chillax recently hit the headlines in the UK media when it transpired that British Prime Minister David Cameron was particularly skilled in the art of chillaxing. According to biographers, Mr Cameron spends chillaxing weekends at Chequers (his country residence) doing a variety of chillaxing activities such as cooking meals for the family, playing with his children, belting out rock numbers on his karaoke machine, inviting friends over for snooker and a drink or two, and knocking a ball about against a tennis machine he allegedly calls "the Clegger" (a playful reference to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg). Whilst many agree that even the Prime Minister ought to be allowed time to wind down and rest at some point, and that it would be downright unhealthy if he didn't , Mr Cameron's chillaxing prowess has predictably attracted its critics, some political opponents implying that someone so chillaxed doesn't always have a sufficiently firm grip on government affairs, and that punctuating his duties with regular bouts of downtime may give the impression of complacency.

Political persuasions aside however, I think most of us would subscribe to the view that everyone, whether the head of state or the head of the housework, needs the opportunity to chillax at some point in their working week, so, away I go to a movie and a glass of red …

Background – chillax / chillaxing

The verb chillax has been around since the mid-nineties. A blend of verbs chill and relax, its initial use was largely in the imperative as a way of telling someone to calm down and relax about something, e.g.: Chillax, nothing's going to go wrong… Though originally associated with teen speak and younger people, it was gradually picked up on by older language users, over time taking on the slightly different meaning of relaxing for pleasure. It could be argued that chillax is a little different to either relax or chill (out) in that it's a bit more dynamic and implies some level of (leisurely) activity.

The word chill dates right back to Old English, derived from words cele and ciele meaning 'cold, coldness'. Chill and chill out as verbs meaning 'relax' are by comparison relative newcomers, originating in US English in the late seventies and spawning chilled and chilling as a related adjective and activity noun. Another more recent addition to the word's pattern of use is the informal expression take a chill pill, now a humorous way of telling someone to calm down and not be stressed about something.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 28th May 2012.

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Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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