ˈrȯi(-ə)l How to pronounce roil (audio)
 transitive sense 2 is also  ˈrī(-ə)l
roiled; roiling; roils

transitive verb

: to make turbid by stirring up the sediment or dregs of
: to stir up : disturb, disorder

intransitive verb

: to move turbulently : be in a state of turbulence or agitation
conflicting emotions roiling inside her

Examples of roil in a Sentence

Financial markets have been roiled by the banking crisis. the waters of the gulf tossed and roiled as the hurricane surged toward the shore
Recent Examples on the Web But a shutdown could make the central bank’s job harder, likely roiling markets and stalling the release of the key Bureau of Labor Statistics data on inflation and unemployment the Fed relies on when setting interest rates. Erin B. Logan, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2023 The suit, filed last month by five former or current tenured faculty members, has roiled the left-leaning campus with allegations of unequal pay, delayed promotions for female professors and a discriminatory performance-evaluation system. Erin Nolan, New York Times, 18 Sep. 2023 Li has been at the center of mounting speculation in recent days that he has been placed under Communist Party investigation after vanishing from view for more than two weeks amid a series of unexplained personnel shakeups that roiled the party’s upper ranks this summer. Simone McCarthy, CNN, 17 Sep. 2023 Caution tape was strung up along the edge of the sand at the tony second-home community's picturesque Main Beach, where waves already were roiling Friday afternoon, News12 Long Island video showed. David Sharp, ajc, 16 Sep. 2023 As evening fell Friday at Chatham Lighthouse in Chatham, one of the outer Cape locations expected to bear the brunt of the storm, dozens of wave-watchers braved fierce gusts to gaze out at the roiling ocean, and snap windblown selfies with the distant whitecaps. Jenna Russell,, 16 Sep. 2023 While Cad & The Dandy’s costume trade has boomed recently, the multiple strikes currently roiling the entertainment industry may lead to a temporary dearth. Eric Twardzik, Robb Report, 11 Sep. 2023 Despite his obscurity, the data set Presser created is now at the center of a roiling controversy over the future of artificial intelligence. Kate Knibbs, WIRED, 4 Sep. 2023 Alongside debates over specific policies, the overall state of democracy roils the national discussion. Dan Balz and Clara Ence Morse, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'roil.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1590, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of roil was in 1590

Dictionary Entries Near roil

Cite this Entry

“Roil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ˈrȯi(ə)l How to pronounce roil (audio)
 sense 2 is also  ˈrī(ə)l
: to make cloudy or muddy by stirring up
roil the water of a brook
: to rouse the anger of

More from Merriam-Webster on roil

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