Meaning of “boil” in the English Dictionary

"boil" in British English

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uk /bɔɪl/ us /bɔɪl/

boil verb (HEAT LIQUID)

A2 [ I or T ] to reach, or cause something to reach, the temperature at which a liquid starts to turn into a gas:

Liquid nitrogen boils at a very low temperature.
She scalded herself on some boiling water.
If you give water to a small baby to drink, you have to boil it first.

B1 [ I or T ] to heat a container, especially one used for cooking, until the liquid in it starts to turn into a gas:

The pan's boiling.
mainly UK Could you boil the kettle for me?

B1 [ T ] to cook food by putting it in water that is boiling:

I've boiled some potatoes for dinner.
boiled carrots
boil dry

If a container or food boils dry, all the liquid in the container in which the food was cooking turns to gas.

[ T ] to wash clothes in a container of very hot water

More examples

  • Ask Simon to cook the meal? Come off it, he can hardly boil an egg!
  • As water begins to boil, bubbles rise ever faster to the surface.
  • To make a thicker sauce, reduce the ingredients by boiling for five minutes.
  • Water boils at 212° Fahrenheit and 100° Celsius/Centigrade.
  • Stir the sauce gently until it begins to boil.


uk /bɔɪl/ us /bɔɪl/

(Definition of “boil” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"boil" in American English

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boilverb [ I/T ]

us /bɔɪl/

boil verb [ I/T ] (HEAT)

(of a liquid) to start to turn into a gas because of being heated, or to cause a liquid to turn into a gas in this way:

[ I ] The water is boiling.
[ T ] We’d better boil this water before we drink it.

If you say that a container has boiled, the liquid in it has started to turn into a gas:

[ I ] The pot’s beginning to boil.

If food boils, or you boil food, it is cooked by being put in water that is heated until the water is in the process of turning into a gas:

[ T ] I boiled some potatoes for dinner.


us /bɔɪl/

boil noun (SWELLING)

[ C ] a painful, red swelling on the skin that is filled with pus (= a yellow liquid from an infection)

boil noun (HEAT)

[ U ] If you bring something to a boil, or let something come to a boil, you heat it until it starts to turn into a gas:

Bring the water to a boil, then add the pasta.

(Definition of “boil” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)