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[chim-nee] /ˈtʃɪm ni/
noun, plural chimneys.
a structure, usually vertical, containing a passage or flue by which the smoke, gases, etc., of a fire or furnace are carried off and by means of which a draft is created.
the part of such a structure that rises above a roof.
Now Rare. the smokestack or funnel of a locomotive, steamship, etc.
a tube, usually of glass, surrounding the flame of a lamp to promote combustion and keep the flame steady.
  1. the vent of a volcano.
  2. a narrow vertical fissure between two rock faces or in a rock formation.
Mining. a nearly vertical cylindrical oreshoot.
British Dialect, fireplace.
verb (used with object), chimneyed, chimneying.
Mountain Climbing. to ascend or descend (a chimney) by repeated bracing of one's feet or back and feet against opposite walls.
verb (used without object), chimneyed, chimneying.
Mountain Climbing. to ascend or descend a chimney.
1300-50; Middle English chimenai < Middle French cheminee < Latin (camera) camīnāta (room) having a fireplace, equivalent to camīn(us) (< Greek kámīnos furnace) + -āta -ate1
Related forms
chimneyless, adjective
chimneylike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for chimneys
  • There were trams, orderly queues, makeshift picture houses and smoking factory chimneys.
  • Deep under the ocean's surface, these rocky chimneys spew out superheated water and hydrogen-rich gases.
  • These chimneys are built from mineral precipitation when the hot vent fluids mix with seawater.
  • The seawater percolates down through cracks caused by earthquakes, and then it comes up through these underwater chimneys.
  • Have furnaces and chimneys inspected and cleaned periodically.
  • chimneys made of sulfide minerals form around focused hydrothermal vents.
  • The composition of the chimneys depends on the composition of the vent fluids.
  • After chimneys are inspected, homeowners will need to obtain a building permit before beginning repairs.
  • Historically, in autumn, chimney swifts gathered in enormous flocks around large chimneys before migration.
  • Many chimneys in that area required rebuilding, and several structures were unsafe for occupancy until repaired.
British Dictionary definitions for chimneys


a vertical structure of brick, masonry, or steel that carries smoke or steam away from a fire, engine, etc
another name for flue1 (sense 1)
short for chimney stack
an open-ended glass tube fitting around the flame of an oil or gas lamp in order to exclude draughts
(Brit) a fireplace, esp an old and large one
  1. a cylindrical body of an ore, which is usually oriented vertically
  2. the vent of a volcano
(mountaineering) a vertical fissure large enough for a person's body to enter
anything resembling a chimney in shape or function
Word Origin
C14: from Old French cheminée, from Late Latin camīnāta, from Latin camīnus furnace, from Greek kaminos fireplace, oven
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for chimneys



late 13c., "furnace;" early 14c., "chimney stack of a fireplace;" late 14c., "fireplace in a residential space;" from Old French cheminee "fireplace; room with a fireplace; hearth; chimney stack" (12c., Modern French cheminée), from Late Latin (camera) caminata "fireplace; room with a fireplace," from Latin caminatus, adjective of caminus "furnace, forge; hearth, oven; flue," from Greek kaminos "furnace, oven, brick kiln." Jamieson [1808] notes that in vulgar use in Scotland it always is pronounced "chimley." Chimney sweep attested from 1610s, earlier chimney sweeper (c.1500).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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chimneys in Science
  1. An elongated opening in a volcano through which magma reaches the Earth's surface.

  2. A stack of minerals that have precipitated out of a hydrothermal vent on the floor of a sea or ocean. See more at hydrothermal vent.

  3. An isolated column of rock along a coastline, formed by the erosion of a sea cliff by waves. Chimneys are smaller than stacks.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for chimneys


structure designed to carry off smoke from a fireplace or furnace. A chimney also induces and maintains a draft that provides air to the fire

Learn more about chimney with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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