Definition of potboiler
: a usually inferior work (as of art or literature) produced chiefly for profit
potboiler was our Word of the Day on 06/13/2009. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
Potboiler draws its meaning from what was once the heartbeat of the home, the hearth and its boiling pot. In the days before modern conveniences, it was essential to maintain a fire within a home's hearth for warmth and domestic activities. In order "to make the pot boil" or "to keep the pot boiling" for cooking, one needed fuel, and to acquire fuel one typically needed an income. When artistic and literary works, especially inferior ones, became the means of keeping the pot boiling in some homes during the 19th century, it didn't take long for the literati to criticize such works as insignificant potboilers.
First Known Use of potboiler
POTBOILER Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of potboiler for English Language Learners
: a book, movie, etc., that is made in usually a cheap way in order to make money rather than for artistic reasons
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