potboiler

noun
pot·​boil·​er | \ ˈpät-ˌbȯi-lər How to pronounce potboiler (audio) \

Definition of potboiler

: a usually inferior work (as of art or literature) produced chiefly for profit

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Examples of potboiler in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Bonestell also illustrated Project Mars, a 1948 potboiler novel by von Braun that imagined the first trip to the red planet and what comes next. David Beers, The New Republic, "Selling the American Space Dream," 7 Dec. 2020 In what unfolded like a potboiler on social media, French ethical hacker Robert Batiste, who goes by the name Elliot Alderson on Twitter, revealed on May 6 that the app, Aarogya Setu, had serious security flaws. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "The Indian government’s tech initiatives keep failing privacy benchmarks," 13 May 2020 To German prosecutors, Dr. Berger is an archetype straight out of a potboiler: the revered enforcer who went to the dark side. David Segal, New York Times, "It May Be the Biggest Tax Heist Ever. And Europe Wants Justice.," 23 Jan. 2020 This ancient political thriller has all the ingredients of a modern-day potboiler. Anand Neelakanthan, Quartz India, "Who exactly was Chanakya, the ancient genius that wily Indian politicians are being compared with?," 20 Dec. 2019 However, a decent Bollywood potboiler needs a dash of the Mumbai underworld. Andy Mukherjee | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "This $12 Billion Rescue Is a Bollywood Fantasy," 25 Oct. 2019 What happened to her career has become the great potboiler mystery of tennis. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "2019 U.S. Open Seed Reports," 22 Aug. 2019 What happened to her career has become the great potboiler mystery of tennis. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "2019 U.S. Open Seed Reports," 22 Aug. 2019 What happened to her career has become the great potboiler mystery of tennis. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "2019 U.S. Open Seed Reports," 22 Aug. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of potboiler

1783, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about potboiler

Time Traveler for potboiler

Time Traveler

The first known use of potboiler was in 1783

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about potboiler

Statistics for potboiler

Cite this Entry

“Potboiler.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/potboiler. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for potboiler

potboiler

noun

English Language Learners Definition of potboiler

: a book, movie, etc., that is made in usually a cheap way in order to make money rather than for artistic reasons

Comments on potboiler

What made you want to look up potboiler? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!