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

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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

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 The men were involved in an industry that produced racy potboilers about the mainland’s Communist Party leadership. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, "Going From Hong Kong to Mainland China? Your Phone Is Subject to Search," 15 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 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 Searching for a potboiler for the ultimate beach read? Lisa Peklo, baltimoresun.com, "Lisa Peklo: The sky’s the limit at astronomy picnic," 11 July 2019 What happened to her career has become the great potboiler mystery of tennis. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "2019 Wimbledon Seed Reports," 28 June 2019 The direction, by Robin Witt, sometimes emphasizes the qualities in Maugham that soon made this kind of melodramatic potboiler the stuff of Monty Pythonesque satire. Jesse Green, New York Times, "In Chicago’s Vibrant Theater Scene, Two Tales of One City," 7 June 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.

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First Known Use of potboiler

1783, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for potboiler

Last Updated

20 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for potboiler

The first known use of potboiler was in 1783

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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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with potboiler

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