1 of 2


: a person who prepares food for eating
: a technical or industrial process comparable to cooking food
also : a substance so processed


2 of 2


cooked; cooking; cooks

transitive verb

: to prepare (food) for eating by a heating process
Cook the vegetables over low heat for 10 minutes.
The fish was cooked in a wine sauce.
He cooked dinner for his guests.
: concoct, fabricate
usually used with up
cooked up a scheme
: to alter (something, such as records) with the intention of deceiving or misleading : falsify, doctor
The point is that every country's numbers are the result of a specific set of testing and accounting regimes. Everyone is cooking the data, one way or another.Alexis C. Madrigal
see also cook the books
: to subject (something) to the action of heat or fire during preparation
Agents discovered a recipe for cooking meth at his lab …Andrew E. Serwer

intransitive verb

: to prepare food for eating especially by means of heat
We're too busy to cook tonight.
I enjoy cooking for friends.
: to undergo the action of being cooked
The rice is cooking now.
: occur, happen
She tried to find out what was cooking in the committee.
: to perform, do, or proceed well
The jazz quartet was cooking along.
The party cooked right through the night.
cookable adjective
cook one's goose
: to make one's failure or ruin certain

Examples of cook in a Sentence

Noun the hearty meals prepared by the cook at summer camp Verb Cook the onions over low heat. She cooked a great meal. The fish was cooked in a white wine sauce. Carrots can be cooked, but they are often eaten raw. We're too busy to cook at home. He enjoys cooking on the weekends. The rice is still cooking, but it will be ready in 10 minutes. There's something cooking, but he won't say what. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Sadie Gertrude Stern was born on Oct. 31, 1934, in Elizabeth, N.J., the youngest of three children of David Stern, a jukebox and vending machine distributor, and Dora (Mendelson) Stern, a skilled cook who would later prepare feasts for the cast and crew of her daughter’s productions. Alex Williams, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2023 Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater, Saveur, 22 Nov. 2023 Add the frozen corn and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Florence O'Connor, Vogue, 22 Nov. 2023 The German stainless steel construction ensures durability and precision, making this set a great gift for both aspiring chefs and seasoned cooks. Mia Meltzer, Rolling Stone, 21 Nov. 2023 Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring often, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, for about 8 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Jonathan Miles, Field & Stream, 15 Nov. 2023 And since James’ dad was a line cook, his roots growing up in Morristown, N.J., were in the restaurant business. Gary Stern, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Add onion, thyme, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes. Liv Dansky, Southern Living, 12 Nov. 2023 Find it on Amazon This Air Fryer For The Freshest Meals Feel like the chef of the house with this Air Fryer that is a dream for any home cook or food enthusiast. Theresa Johnson, Rolling Stone, 10 Nov. 2023
Boil potatoes: Bring the water to a boil, and cook for 10-12 minutes. Aly Walansky, Southern Living, 25 Nov. 2023 The reel flashed forward to the bird fully cooked, and the country star taking a quick taste test of the Funyons on top. Jack Irvin, Peoplemag, 24 Nov. 2023 Tankers of fuel and four of cooking gas entered Gaza through Egypt soon after hostilities paused, the first of what aid workers hope will be surge of relief materials for millions who are hanging on with dwindling food, power, sanitation and health care. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2023 Practicing proper food storage in the days leading up to Turkey Day and cooking the meal with food safety in mind are two ways to help avoid any digestive woes—but safe food practices don’t end when the meal does. Korin Miller, Health, 24 Nov. 2023 The cottages, which are dotted across the property and come with their own electric car for ease of movement, have their own kitchen facilities if guests wish to cook. Shon Faye, Vogue, 23 Nov. 2023 The compact menu features a selection of mutton, chicken, or beef kebabs—always cooked to perfection—served with a choice of flatbread, rice, a green salad, and French fries. Claudia De Brito, Condé Nast Traveler, 23 Nov. 2023 Head to Fireside Pies for a Burrata Pesto or Prosciutto & Parm pizza cooked on an open-flame firepit. Jennifer Chappell Smith, Southern Living, 13 Nov. 2023 That’s actually a real recipe from the woman who cooks in my house. Julyssa Lopez, Rolling Stone, 13 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History



Middle English, from Old English cōc, from Latin coquus, from coquere to cook; akin to Old English āfigen fried, Greek pessein to cook

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cook was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near cook

Cite this Entry

“Cook.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: one who prepares food for eating


2 of 2 verb
: to prepare food for eating especially by the use of heat
: to go through the process of being cooked
the rice is cooking now
: to think up
cook up a scheme
: to go on : happen
what's cooking


Old English cōc "person who prepares food," from Latin coquus (same meaning), from coquere "to cook" — related to kitchen see Word History at kitchen

Biographical Definition


biographical name

James 1728–1779 English navigator and explorer

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