boil·er·plate | \ˈbȯi-lər-ˌplāt \

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

The problem is that his and screenwriter Greg Tucker's love of horse operas both boilerplate and ruminative a la Peckinpah doesn't mesh well enough into a smooth ride. Robert Abele,, "Lance Henriksen and Tom Berenger fit comfortably into throwback western 'Gone Are the Days,' flaws and all," 22 Mar. 2018 Work out a basic, friendly, boilerplate text, and run it by your manager so everybody is comfortable. New York Times, "How to Deal With Misguided Job Inquiries," 22 June 2018 But with the exception of Tammé’s brief story line, these new episodes mostly find relevance through Ruth’s boilerplate #MeToo plot. Judy Berman, Time, "Glow Fades But Stays Fun in Its Second Season," 21 June 2018 Their engagement in November 2017 must have been devastating news for boilerplate bigots and anyone banking on making #WindsorSoWhite the next big cause across social media. Lorraine Ali,, "The royal wedding: Fairy tale or 'Game of Thrones'?," 17 May 2018 In less than a year, a boilerplate model of the Orion spacecraft will be jettisoned from its rocket at 55 seconds after liftoff to test the vehicle’s launch abort system. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA’s Orion spacecraft getting closer to finally flying again," 8 May 2018 The address continued like this, with line after line of ordinary commencement-speak boilerplate. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "When Betsy DeVos Comes to a Catholic Campus," 8 May 2018 It’s unclear what path Athenahealth will take (the company issued a boilerplate missive about reviewing the unsolicited proposal on Monday). Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Brainstorm Health: Athenahealth Bid, Obamacare Fast Food Rules, $1.5 Million Gene Therapy," 7 May 2018 Trump and Kim would effectively be creating a road map for future negotiations, while offering up the usual diplomatic boilerplate. Alex Ward, Vox, "Trump’s big summit with Kim Jong Un is officially back on," 1 June 2018

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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Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for boilerplate

The first known use of boilerplate was in 1893

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More Definitions for boilerplate



English Language Learners Definition of boilerplate

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


boil·er·plate | \ˈbȯi-lər-ˌplāt \

Legal Definition of boilerplate 

: standardized text in documents (as contracts)

More from Merriam-Webster on boilerplate

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Britannica English: Translation of boilerplate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on boilerplate

What made you want to look up boilerplate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

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