boil·​er·​plate | \ ˈbȯi-lər-ˌplāt How to pronounce boilerplate (audio) \

Definition of boilerplate

1 : syndicated material supplied especially to weekly newspapers in matrix or plate form
2a : standardized text
b : formulaic or hackneyed language bureaucratic boilerplate
3 : tightly packed icy snow

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Boilerplate in Print

In the days before computers, small, local newspapers around the U.S. relied heavily on feature stories, editorials, and other printed material supplied by large publishing syndicates. The syndicates delivered that copy on metal plates with the type already in place so the local papers wouldn't have to set it. Printers apparently dubbed those syndicated plates boiler plates because of their resemblance to the plating used in making steam boilers. Soon boilerplate came to refer to the printed material on the plates as well as to the plates themselves. Because boilerplate stories were more often filler than hard news, the word acquired negative connotations and gained another sense widely used today: "hackneyed or unoriginal writing."

Examples of boilerplate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And in customary fashion, Belichick gave bland boilerplate answers to questions about Brown during his Monday interview on WEEI., "a video hyping Brown’s preseason workouts in Oakland," 11 Sep. 2019 The arguments predicated on this view have become familiar, almost boilerplate. Gideon Lewis-kraus, Wired, "Bad Algorithms Didn't Break Democracy," 15 Jan. 2020 And much of the choreography is boilerplate, even corny in spots (though Jacqueline Green, in the lead role, is too majestic and dignified to ever look foolish). Brian Seibert, New York Times, "Review: A Dance About Gun Violence? ‘Ode’ Is Daring and Delicate," 11 Dec. 2019 Bianco accused the company of issuing a boilerplate apology. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "Starbucks apologizes after California police weren't served," 16 Dec. 2019 This works well enough as a boilerplate cat-and-mouse game for a while, but the spirit of sly, nimble feminism is too often dragged down by clumsy plot mechanics, and the movie tumbles into sheer ridiculosity when the horror turns otherworldly. Leah Greenblatt,, "Black Christmas gives holiday horror a clumsy girl-power update," 13 Dec. 2019 In a different version of Washington — something in the ballpark of the old normal, whatever that was — the sentiment could be ignored as a boilerplate pleasantry., "WASHINGTON — After so much noise, a formal feeling fell upon the Capitol. The civil servants had entered the room.," 14 Nov. 2019 Now these defenders of the indigent are drafting boilerplate motions for each of their clients asking for the same deal: a reduction in sentence without having to post bond and an exactly identical donation, 0.0128% of the defendant’s net worth. Chandra Bozelko, The Denver Post, "Bozelko: Felicity Huffman’s lenient sentence could be a good thing if it applies to the poor too," 17 Sep. 2019 Early this year, Amtrak changed the boilerplate language on its tickets to prevent passengers injured in Amtrak accidents or those with any other grievance from suing the company in court. Ana Radelat,, "Amtrak’s new ticketing policy prevents passengers injured in accidents from suing. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is pushing to change it.," 14 Oct. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'boilerplate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of boilerplate

1893, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of boilerplate was in 1893

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Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Boilerplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for boilerplate


How to pronounce boilerplate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of boilerplate

US : phrases or sentences that are a standard way of saying something and are often used


boil·​er·​plate | \ ˈbȯi-lər-ˌplāt How to pronounce boilerplate (audio) \

Legal Definition of boilerplate

: standardized text in documents (as contracts)

More from Merriam-Webster on boilerplate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with boilerplate

Britannica English: Translation of boilerplate for Arabic Speakers

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