sim·​mer | \ˈsi-mər \
simmered; simmering\ ˈsi-​mə-​riŋ , ˈsim-​riŋ \

Definition of simmer 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to stew gently below or just at the boiling point

2a : to be in a state of incipient development : ferment ideas simmering in the back of my mind

b : to be in inward turmoil : seethe

transitive verb

: to cook slowly in a liquid just below the boiling point



Definition of simmer (Entry 2 of 2)

: the state of simmering

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Synonyms for simmer

Synonyms: Verb

boil, coddle, parboil, poach, stew

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Examples of simmer in a Sentence


Simmer the stew for 40 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. The chicken was simmered in a cream sauce. The dispute simmered for years before any progress was made. It's a debate that has simmered for 30 years and is likely to continue. Long-simmering tensions between the two groups eventually sparked violence.


Bring the mixture to a simmer.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In a medium high-sided saucepan, bring cider to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Woman's Day Test Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Apple Cider Caramel Sauce," 25 Oct. 2018 Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst and sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Orange-Ginger Cranberry Sauce," 23 Oct. 2018 Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is tender, 2½-3 hours. 2. Matthew Kronsberg, WSJ, "The Secret to This Dish's Deep Flavor," 18 Oct. 2018 Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times, "Fall into this Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe: creamy cauliflower soup," 16 Oct. 2018 Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until liquid has reduced to 3 tablespoons, 12 to 15 minutes. Kate Merker, Country Living, "Roasted Butternut Squash with Cider Vinaigrette," 21 Sep. 2018 Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then discard the cobs. San Antonio Express-News, "Recipe: Silky Sweet Corn Soup with Indian Coconut-Cilantro Chutney," 11 July 2018 Add the oats, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the water is gone. Sally Singer, Vogue, "Hollywood’s Favorite Detox Resort Launches a Delicious Vegetarian Cookbook," 13 June 2018 Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until rhubarb is translucent and tender. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Rhubarb: How to cook, store, freeze the perfect pie plant," 29 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Turn heat back to high and bring to a simmer, then cover and put in the oven. Bethany Jean Clement, The Seattle Times, "Taking stock: The story of an accidental, excellent post-Thanksgiving recipe," 14 Nov. 2018 Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer, then remove the sauce from the heat and set aside. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "Be Ambitious This Thanksgiving: 3 Bold Recipes From One of L.A.’s Most Talked About Restaurants," 2 Nov. 2018 Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer, then remove sauce from the heat and set aside. Aleksandra Crapanzano, WSJ, "Cook’s Trick: Go Ahead and Overdo It," 7 Sep. 2018 Stir in remaining hash browns and chicken broth, cover, and bring to a simmer. Redbook Test Kitchen, Redbook, "Potato-Leek Soup," 20 Aug. 2018 Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Marian Cooper Cairns, Country Living, "Ginger Garlic Chicken Ramen," 6 Feb. 2018 Add the water, salt and pepper to taste; bring to a boil then reduce heat simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until rice is cooked. Fox News, "Recipes for your Caribbean themed party," 3 June 2013 While quinoa simmers, cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions, drain and set aside but reserve pasta water. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Table for 1: For solo diners, cooking at home offers many perks," 12 July 2018 The liquid in the pan cooks down to a creamy sauce as the chicken simmers, though Mr. Cardoz does recommend caution and occasional stirring to prevent the sauce from scorching. Kitty Greenwald, WSJ, "A Glorious Chicken Korma Anyone Can Pull Off," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'simmer.' 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 simmer


1653, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1809, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for simmer


alteration of English dialect simper, from Middle English simperen, of imitative origin

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Dictionary Entries near simmer





simmer down



Statistics for simmer

Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for simmer

The first known use of simmer was in 1653

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More Definitions for simmer



English Language Learners Definition of simmer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cook (something) so that it is almost boiling for a certain period of time

: to be filled with a strong feeling that is difficult to control or hide

: to be felt strongly by someone without being directly shown or expressed



English Language Learners Definition of simmer (Entry 2 of 2)

: a state of simmering : a way of cooking that is close to boiling


sim·​mer | \ˈsi-mər \
simmered; simmering

Kids Definition of simmer

1 : to cook gently at or just below the boiling point

2 : to be on the point of bursting out with violence or anger

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Comments on simmer

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


by force of circumstances

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