boil 1 (boil)
v. boiled, boil·ing, boils
a. To change from a liquid to a vapor by the application of heat: All the water boiled away and left the kettle dry.
b. To reach the boiling point.
c. To undergo the action of boiling, especially in being cooked.
2. To be in a state of agitation; seethe: a river boiling over the rocks.
3. To be stirred up or greatly excited, especially in anger: The mere idea made me boil.
a. To vaporize (a liquid) by the application of heat.
b. To heat to the boiling point.
2. To cook or clean by boiling.
3. To separate by evaporation in the process of boiling: boil the maple sap.
1. The condition or act of boiling.
2. Lower Southern US A picnic featuring shrimp, crab, or crayfish boiled in large pots with spices, and then shelled and eaten by hand.
3. An agitated, swirling, roiling mass of liquid: "Those tumbling boils show a dissolving bar and a changing channel there" (Mark Twain).
1. To reduce in bulk or size by boiling.
2. To condense; summarize: boiled down the complex document.
3. To constitute the equivalent of in summary: The scathing editorial simply boils down to an exercise in partisan politics.
1. To overflow while boiling.
2. To lose one's temper.
[Middle English boillen, from Old French boillir, from Latin bullīre, from bulla, bubble.]
Synonyms: boil1, simmer, seethe, stew
These verbs mean, both literally and figuratively, to stir up or agitate. To boil is to heat a liquid until it churns with bubbles. Figuratively it pertains to intense agitation, often from anger: She boiled with rage at the insult.
Simmer denotes gentle cooking just at or below the boiling point. Figuratively it refers to a state of slow, contained ferment: Plans were simmering in his mind. The employees simmered with resentment over the cut in benefits.
To seethe is to boil steadily and vigorously. Its figurative usage can suggest vigorous activity or passionate emotion: "The arc lamp's cone of light seethes with winged insects" (Claire Davis). "The city had ... been seething with discontent" (John R. Green).
Stew refers literally to slow boiling and figuratively to a persistent but not violent state of agitation: "They don't want a man to fret and stew about his work" (William H. Whyte, Jr.)
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
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