dis·​till | \ di-ˈstil How to pronounce distill (audio) \
variants: or less commonly distil
distilled; distilling

Definition of distill

transitive verb

1 : to let fall, exude, or precipitate (see precipitate entry 1 sense 3b) in drops or in a wet mist some caves are dry, others distill water from invisible rifts— Norman Douglas
2a : to purify or transform (a liquid) by successive evaporation and condensation : to subject to or transform by distillation distill molasses into rum
b : to obtain by or as if by distillation distill whiskey able to distill humor from personal loss
c : to extract the essence of : concentrate distill the experience into a poem

intransitive verb

1a : to fall or materialize in drops or in a fine moisture
b : to appear slowly or in small quantities at a time
2a : to undergo distillation
b : to perform distillation

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Synonyms for distill


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Examples of distill in a Sentence

They distill the whiskey from malted barley. He has perfectly distilled the meaning of the holiday into a poem.
Recent Examples on the Web These columns will distill and interpret the data provided in some of these reports. George Calhoun, Forbes, 30 Sep. 2021 Implementing or operationalizing ideas requires you to be clear on the main idea and be able to distill it into actionable steps. Avery Blank, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 But more recently Pinhook has been working with Castle & Key, a distillery that revitalized the Old Taylor Distillery in Frankfort, KY, to contract distill its whiskey. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 3 Sep. 2021 With more than 3,000 superyachts in the global fleet, as well as thousands of others that are long gone, Cain was able to distill the crème de la crème into a manageable collection. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 16 Aug. 2021 Beginning in 1922, Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) began training his camera on the sky, photographing clouds in a way meant to disorient and distill the image of recognizable reference points. Washington Post, 16 July 2021 Any designer who has sent clothes down a runway even once should be able to distill their point of view, their vibe, into a couple of solid pieces. Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2021 Attorneys from both sides are seeking to distill three weeks of testimony in order to convince jurors to acquit or convict Chauvin on second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 19 Apr. 2021 Every season, the beauty whisperers at Violet Grey distill their expertise to curate the (actual) best-of-the-best luxury goods at a steep discount. Karina Hoshikawa, refinery29.com, 19 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'distill.' 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 distill

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for distill

Middle English distillen, from Anglo-French distiller, from Late Latin distillare, alteration of Latin destillare, from de- + stillare to drip, from stilla drop

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The first known use of distill was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Distill.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distill. Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for distill



English Language Learners Definition of distill

: to make (a liquid) pure by heating it until it becomes a gas and then cooling it until it is a liquid again : to purify (a liquid) by distillation
: to make (a strong alcoholic drink) by using this process
: to take the most important parts of something and put them in a different and usually improved form


variants: also distil \ di-​ˈstil \
distilled; distilling

Kids Definition of distill

: to make (a liquid) pure by heating it until it becomes a gas and then cooling it until it becomes a liquid distill water

Other Words from distill

distiller noun


variants: also distil \ dis-​ˈtil How to pronounce distill (audio) \
distilled; distilling

Medical Definition of distill

transitive verb

1 : to subject to or transform by distillation
2 : to obtain by or as if by distillation
3 : to obtain an extract from (as a plant) by infusion and distillation making medicines by distilling herbs

intransitive verb

1 : to undergo distillation
2 : to condense or drop from a still after distillation

More from Merriam-Webster on distill

Nglish: Translation of distill for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of distill for Arabic Speakers


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