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 To see her distill it down to these minute little moments was fun. Anna Moeslein, Glamour, 28 May 2021 For years, the younger Van Winkle struggled to make ends meet and find places to distill and distribute his whiskey. Steve Straessle, Arkansas Online, 1 May 2021 This software also helps personnel immediately distill and combine signals from numerous data sources and visualize a complete picture of the data that's updated every few seconds. William Bain, Forbes, 8 Apr. 2021 Arnold said tests that distill information down to the individual level are effectively diagnostic, even if they’re not described that way and if subjects are referred for a second test. Steve Schering, chicagotribune.com, 2 Apr. 2021 Corralejo is one of the few brands that’s permitted to distill tequila outside of Jalisco—they’re located in the state of Guanajuato. Jason O'bryan, Robb Report, 27 Apr. 2021 Accessible, user-friendly data dashboards can distill complex analytics into digestible and actionable information. Fabio Caversan, Forbes, 11 May 2021 Rendered as paintings or occasionally sculpture, these archetypal structures distill the forms of Japanese teahouses and Italian pre-Renaissance chapels, but also prisons. Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2021 Tecmo Bowl obviously doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the football extravaganzas on modern machines, but honestly, couch games of Madden usually distill into two friends running the same plays over and over again. Luke Winkie, Vulture, 30 Mar. 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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Time Traveler for distill

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

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Statistics for distill

Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Distill.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distill. Accessed 19 Jun. 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


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