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

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, such as "hackneyed or unoriginal writing."

Examples of boilerplate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Indeed, as early as 1933, the famed movie house appeared in other media as a boilerplate for how a premiere should, and often does, look like. Todd Gilchrist, Variety, 18 May 2022 Because they’re often oversaturated with lengthy, boilerplate policies that are unwelcoming, and frankly, boring to read. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 13 May 2022 But there’s also a sense of his effortless screen magnetism being shoehorned into a thriller boilerplate. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Apr. 2022 Thus the new vehicle integrated technological enhancements to nearly every aspect of what could have been a boilerplate design. Sebastien Roblin, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2022 The affidavit was barely four pages long, mostly filled with Cavaliere’s law enforcement experience and boilerplate language. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2022 This is a classic issue of standard boilerplate undermining your intent. Martin Shenkman, Forbes, 13 Apr. 2022 Also be careful of that boilerplate, standard, $10 or so many trusts list on schedule A. Martin Shenkman, Forbes, 13 Apr. 2022 For Billy, even conversational boilerplate was a struggle. Andrew Solomon, The New Yorker, 4 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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boiler room

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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Boilerplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for boilerplate


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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