There are 2 main definitions of boil in English:

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boil 1

Line breaks: boil


1(With reference to a liquid) reach or cause to reach the temperature at which it bubbles and turns to vapour: [with object]: we asked people to boil their drinking water [no object]: he waited for the water to boil
More example sentences
  • I had to boil up the water in an old kettle with a frayed wire.
  • Water was boiled in kettles, saucepans and other containers on the top of the stove, and baking done in the oven.
  • The first paddle steamers typically used oil-fired boilers, which provided heat to boil water, which generated steam to power the boat.
simmer, bubble, seethe, heat, cook, stew
1.1(With reference to a kettle, pan, or other container) heat or be heated until the liquid inside starts to boil: [with object]: she boiled the kettle and took down a couple of mugs [no object]: the kettle boiled and he filled the teapot
More example sentences
  • When the kettle had been boiled and the tea had been made we all went up to Terri's bedroom.
  • She came to the rescue by boiling up seven kettles of water on her range and arranged for them to be delivered to the school.
  • This means having to boil up saucepans of water to have a bath.
2 [with object] Subject (something) to the heat of boiling liquid, in particular:
2.1(With reference to food) cook or be cooked by immersing in boiling water or stock: [with object]: boil the potatoes until well done (as adjective boiled) two boiled eggs [no object]: make the sauce while the lobsters are boiling
More example sentences
  • Instead, they found it was healthier to boil food in water or a light stock.
  • In addition, wherever eggs have been boiled for the recipes above, then they need to be peeled before moving on to the next stage of the recipe.
  • British travellers can fall victim to the disease if they do not boil food and water before consumption.
bring to the boil, simmer, heat;
2.2Wash or sterilize (clothes) in water of a very high temperature: boil bedclothes and towels
More example sentences
  • The first surgical gloves were boiled to achieve sterilization.
  • You can also sterilise equipment by boiling it in water for at least 10 minutes.
  • If you are not satisfied that this washing powder boils your clothes whiter than any other washing product return the unused portion of the first packet you buy to us and we will send you double its purchase price.
2.3 historical Execute (someone) by subjecting them to the heat of boiling liquid: one valet was ordered to be boiled alive
More example sentences
  • I am going to boil him in hot oil!
  • He is a brutal dictator who boils his political foes alive.
  • The country has been accused of a series of grisly human rights abuses, including torture, murder and boiling detainees alive.
3 [no object] (Of the sea or clouds) be turbulent and stormy: a huge cliff with the black sea boiling below
More example sentences
  • Outside, the wind was blowing and dark storm clouds were boiling.
  • Clouds boiled in the sky overhead, blocking out the sun and heralding a storm.
  • I stood on the front porch watching horizontal sheets of rain sweep up the driveway as the clouds boiled menacingly overhead.
be turbulent, be agitated, froth, foam, churn, seethe, bubble, fizz, effervesce
literary roil
3.1(Of a person or strong emotion) be stirred up: he was boiling with rage
More example sentences
  • I was boiling with anger and shouted that his behaviour was way out of line.
  • I was still boiling with jealousy, but I knew I shouldn't have said what I'd said to Adrian.
  • Frustration is boiling up, and she is responsible for it and so she is passing the blame.
be angry, be furious, be indignant, rage, fume, seethe, smoulder;
lose one's temper, lose control, rant, rave, storm, fulminate, bluster, explode, flare up, go berserk, throw a tantrum
British informal spit feathers


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1 [in singular] The temperature at which a liquid bubbles and turns to vapour: bring the sauce to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes
More example sentences
  • Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, and simmer for fifteen minutes.
  • Bring to a boil and slowly whisk in the cornstarch, a little at a time.
  • Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil.
boiling point, 100 degrees Celsius/centigrade
1.1The process of heating a liquid to the temperature at which it bubbles and turns to vapour: the kettle’s on the boil
More example sentences
  • Or what of the porridge left on the boil too long or the cat's fur balls?
  • She loved people to call, and the welcome was always there, because the kettle was always on the boil, and her face would light up when she would come to the door.
  • The kettle is permanently on the boil.
1.2British A state of great activity or excitement: he has gone off the boil since opening the campaign
More example sentences
  • However things have now gone off the boil again.
  • But things had gone off the boil at Burnden and Alan Ball's Exeter made an already subdued crowd of 5,631 even quieter.
  • Even if their records have gone off the boil, the band has its reputation as one of Britain's most exciting live experiences to protect.
2 Fishing A sudden rise of a fish at a fly: a boil from a fish in a pool
More example sentences
  • A boil or two on the surface, and the fish, a stunningly beautiful creature of around 7 lbs. was scooped into the net.
  • When the big fish took there was a bow wave and a big boil, and all three of us rushed for the rod.
  • Two quick twelve inch pulls then a huge head appeared quickly engulfing the frog, this was followed by a big boil and swirl.


keep the pot boiling
Maintain the brisk momentum of something: a home win over Sheffield kept the pot boiling
More example sentences
  • The chance to keep the pot boiling after a good win is an obvious temptation, but their fly-half will benefit from a week's recovery time after coming off with a thigh strain.
  • Graham did all he could on the spot and then repaired home, keeping the pot boiling with a daily fax and phone call.
  • The onus is on the Action Group to keep the pot boiling on the issue and ensure that there is a ministerial response to their proposal.

Phrasal verbs

boil down to
Amount to; be essentially a matter of: everything boiled down to cash in the end
More example sentences
  • I guess my feelings on the matter boil down to two points.
  • As in any legal-ethical debate, the question boils down to a matter of someone's rights.
  • I guess it all boils down to a matter of confidence in the long term future of space research.
boil something down
Reduce the volume of a liquid by boiling: they boil down the syrup until it is very thick
More example sentences
  • Meanwhile the cooking liquor would be boiled down to make a thickened gravy.
  • The amount of red wine the recipe called for seemed rather too small to me, so I used more wine - about three times as much - by boiling it down to the same volume as indicated in the recipe.
  • Skim the fat from pan juices, and reduce the drippings by boiling them down to a delicious sauce.
condense, concentrate, reduce, distil, thicken, compress;
boil over
(Of a liquid) flow over the sides of the container in boiling: the milk’s boiled over
More example sentences
  • The liquid boiled over, and the tank was at once enveloped in flames.
  • One day someone forgot to turn off the steam - the thick porridge-like liquid soap boiled over and oozed over the factory floor before anyone realised.
  • Do not allow mixture to boil or to boil over the side of the pan.
3.1(Of a situation or strong emotion) reach a state of such intensity that it can no longer be controlled or contained: one woman’s anger boiled over
More example sentences
  • I've always had a stubborn streak, but I've never let my emotions boil over like that before.
  • Emotions boiled over inside me, and I burst out crying.
  • It was too much for her to take and her anger boiled over.


Middle English: from Old French boillir, from Latin bullire 'to bubble', from bulla 'bubble'.

  • Boil in the sense of what hot water does is from Old French boillir, based on Latin bullire ‘to bubble’, from bulla ‘a bubble’. The swelling is unrelated, and was an Old English word.

Words that rhyme with boil

Boyle, broil, coil, Dáil, Doyle, embroil, Fianna Fáil, foil, Hoyle, moil, noil, oil, roil, Royle, soil, spoil, toil, voile
Definition of boil in:
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There are 2 main definitions of boil in English:

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boil 2 Line breaks: boil


An inflamed pus-filled swelling on the skin, caused typically by the infection of a hair follicle.
Example sentences
  • You can use them to treat sores, bruises, cuts, boils and inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Symptoms of diabetes include having to get up at night to go to the toilet, feeling thirsty, lacking energy and getting reoccurring infections such as boils and abscesses.
  • It is useful for boils and skin ulcerations, like bedsores and canker sores.
swelling, spot, pimple, blister, pustule, eruption, blemish, carbuncle, wen, cyst, abscess, tumour, ulcer, chilblain, gumboil;
Scottish  plook
technical furuncle
rare blain


Old English bȳle, bȳl, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch buil and German Beule.

  • Boil in the sense of what hot water does is from Old French boillir, based on Latin bullire ‘to bubble’, from bulla ‘a bubble’. The swelling is unrelated, and was an Old English word.

Definition of boil in:
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