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 This boilerplate information out of the way, Arasheben set to work on smaller touches with larger meanings. Los Angeles Times, "Beneath the bling: Lakers championship rings feature many special surprises," 15 Jan. 2021 The original Robinson plaque included a boilerplate recitation of statistics, citing him as a four-time league leader in double plays by a second baseman but making no mention of integrating the major leagues, as his new plaque does. New York Times, "The Hall of Fame Tries to Contextualize Baseball’s Racist Past," 21 Dec. 2020 By now, 2020 wedding guests have read the boilerplate. New York Times, "That New York Vibe and a Life in San Diego," 7 Nov. 2020 One also finds, interspersed with Council on Foreign Relations boilerplate, a few instances of rock criticism: juvenilia’s juvenilia. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "A Dad-Rocker in the State Department," 7 Dec. 2020 To date, there have been 18 rulings made by Del Mar stewards and none explained beyond boilerplate detail by the CHRB. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Aaron Gryder set to hang it up," 16 Nov. 2020 Apart from making some boilerplate comments about supporting democracy, Trump has largely remained silent on Belarus, leaving the work of speaking out in defense of democratic values to his subordinates. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, "The U.S. Is for Democracy Again. But for How Long?," 13 Nov. 2020 That, in fact, is why mediocre men such as Richard Spencer, who cannot even get through a speech of boilerplate racist slogans without reading from his notes, briefly soared to prominence. Jonathon Van Maren, National Review, "The Alt-Right Is Not Rising," 1 Nov. 2020 This week's three-count federal filing uses only boilerplate language about the danger in which Roemhild placed the three agents – identified only as J.B., R.A. and R.R. – and provides no narrative about the events of that day. Eliot Kleinberg, USA TODAY, "Federal assault charges filed against woman for charging Mar-a-Lago barrier in SUV," 28 Oct. 2020

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

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Boilerplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for boilerplate



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

Britannica English: Translation of boilerplate for Arabic Speakers

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