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

Example Sentences

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
The film, now streaming on HBO Max, centers around Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) who is a mysterious cook at an elite island restaurant putting together an avant-garde lineup of dishes for his guests. Antonia Debianchi, Peoplemag, 11 Jan. 2023 At best, Jonathan thinks his brother is a better cook than him. Angela Belt, House Beautiful, 9 Jan. 2023 My grandmother was a cook at the county jail for twenty-five years. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 8 Jan. 2023 Noah is tidy, loves clean lines, is a phenomenal cook. Kelly Mcmasters, The Atlantic, 1 Jan. 2023 The company’s creator, Ryan Moore, grew up in San Diego, completed the culinary program at Mesa College and worked his way up from being a line cook to an executive chef at restaurants in San Diego and San Francisco Bay area. Maura Fox, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Nov. 2022 Patricia Johnson’s mother was a reluctant cook who relied on a few favorite 1960s-style recipes. John Kelly, Washington Post, 6 Nov. 2022 Blaire told Dateline her sister was a great cook and could make anything from scratch. Rachel Legon, NBC News, 11 Oct. 2022 Michael Calore is, as his name might suggest, is an excellent cook. Wired Staff, WIRED, 29 Sep. 2022
Add oats, cinnamon, cardamom, and pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Tina Martinez, Good Housekeeping, 13 Jan. 2023 Add flour; stir to coat and cook raw flour, about 1 minute. People Staff, Peoplemag, 12 Jan. 2023 Add the pumpkin seeds, cilantro and chives and cook, gently stirring until incorporated, another 1 to 2 minutes. Ellie Krieger, Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2023 After a cool dip in the Gulf, warm up in the big heated outdoor pool and cook out at the barbecue pit. Robin Soslow, Chron, 11 Jan. 2023 Heat half the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat and cook the onion and carrot until soft, lightly browned, and glistening. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, 11 Jan. 2023 Step 2Add wine and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Christopher Michel, Country Living, 10 Jan. 2023 Prepping vegetables and learning to cook can help children build healthy eating habits. Chicago Tribune, 8 Jan. 2023 Avoid using it to boil water or cook foods with a high acidic content. Kristen (kj) Callihan, Better Homes & Gardens, 6 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cook.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 26 Jan. 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

Biographical Definition


biographical name

James 1728–1779 English navigator and explorer

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