boil·​er·​plate ˈbȯi-lər-ˌplāt How to pronounce boilerplate (audio)
: syndicated material supplied especially to weekly newspapers in matrix or plate form
: standardized text
: formulaic or hackneyed language
bureaucratic boilerplate
: tightly packed icy snow

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Boilerplate in Print

In the days before computers, small 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 often more filler—material used to fill extra space in a column or page of a newspaper to increase its size—than important or informative news, the word acquired negative connotations and gained the "standardized or formulaic language" sense widely used today.

Examples of boilerplate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That being said, the film’s human storylines — about a Godzilla hunter, his precocious daughter, and a photojournalist looking for the ultimate Godzilla shot — are a boilerplate extension of the Heisei era in structure and tone. Katie Rife,, 28 Mar. 2024 The replies back to the potential victim typically involve boilerplate language — which can be treated as a red flag — and may not even mention the specific concert or game initially. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 26 Mar. 2024 In ways both too cute and really quite ingenious, Elsbeth Tascioni keeps disrupting a boilerplate CBS police procedural already in progress. Phillip MacIak, New York Times, 21 Mar. 2024 The obituary read like a typical, boilerplate version with no sinister, harmful intention. USA TODAY, 17 Mar. 2024 Polanski’s attorneys have asserted a catalog of boilerplate defenses, including that the court does not have jurisdiction over him. Gene Maddaus, Variety, 12 Mar. 2024 Among the film’s more oddly touching impressions is that men want to feel desired, not in any swaggering horndog way but certainly in ways that don’t fit neatly into the boilerplate mold of husband and father. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Feb. 2024 Most prominent of these platforms was the increasingly popular website Common Sense, which didn’t expound on method but in terse boilerplate statements asserted that Castro’s death had been no accident, and repeated the catchphrase, Wake up, America, and dream. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 6 Feb. 2024 The consulting company that Avangrid had hired, Tetra Tech, had included a lot of boilerplate language about human history on the Columbia Plateau, but fewer details than Palmer expected about what was actually found on the land. B. “toastie” Oaster, ProPublica, 19 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'boilerplate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1893, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of boilerplate was in 1893


Dictionary Entries Near boilerplate

Cite this Entry

“Boilerplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition


boil·​er·​plate ˈbȯi-lər-ˌplāt How to pronounce boilerplate (audio)
: standardized text in documents (as contracts)

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