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 Goldman at Santa Clara University observed that businesses may have to include boilerplate language in contracts. Los Angeles Times, 24 Aug. 2021 Pearlstein and Baker both said the contract language was just legal boilerplate., 26 June 2021 Carey tweeted out boilerplate language many users are including in their supportive messages. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2021 Some SPACs are emailing cut-and-paste boilerplate letters, according to interviews with CEOs and letters viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Heather Somerville, WSJ, 23 May 2021 Screenshots show the employee replied with the same boilerplate language. Brian Edwards, ProPublica, 17 May 2021 Plaintiff firms linked with union pension funds have been taking that corporate boilerplate and turning it into shareholder class actions, and lower courts have indulged them. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 26 Mar. 2021 Most buyers regard CC&Rs as boilerplate to be reviewed eventually. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Apr. 2021 Instead of probing Gates’s central role in preserving this paradigm, the paper linked to gentle boilerplate about pricing and access found on the Gates Foundation website. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, 12 Apr. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near boilerplate



boiler room

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Last Updated

27 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Boilerplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2021.

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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 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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