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

Place egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in large bowl of an electric stand mixer set over a pan of barely simmering water. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Eggnog Mousse Snowmen," 29 Nov. 2018 But now their disregard for borders, and local Sami traditions, are causing a long-simmering dispute between friendly neighbors to reach a boiling point. Author: Sveinung Sleire, Rafaela Lindeberg, Anchorage Daily News, "Reindeer ignoring borders have Norway locking antlers with Sweden," 30 June 2018 Before placing fish in steamer, make sure basket sits just above simmering water. Kitty Greenwald, WSJ, "This Summery Coconut-Spice Halibut Is Great Steamed or Grilled," 26 June 2018 Sugar Town will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Victor White III, who was 22, on March 2, 2014, an incident that brought simmering racial tensions to a boil in a Louisiana town. Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter, "Investigation Discovery Explores Controversial Death of Black Man While in Police Custody (Exclusive)," 26 June 2018 And then, abruptly, both ceremonies are over—the labor was a false start, and the simmering tensions in the Waterford household finally boil over. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 10 Is Its Most Horrifying Yet," 20 June 2018 Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler set over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Chronicle Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, "4 recipes from now-closed Terra in St. Helena," 11 June 2018 Start your magic shell by combining chopped white chocolate and melted virgin coconut oil in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, which helps the chocolate melt smoothly and evenly. Aliza Abarbanel, Bon Appetit, "Matcha-Dipped Strawberries Are the Dessert We're Bringing to Every Summer Hang," 5 June 2018 Stir constantly over gently simmering water because the edges cook faster than the center. Karoline Boehm Goodnick,, "Recipe: How to make the richest, creamiest scrambled eggs," 30 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Bring 2 inches water to a gentle simmer in a large saucepan. Anna Helm Baxter, Country Living, "7-Minute Frosting," 11 Dec. 2018 Make the ganache: In a small stainless steel saucepan, bring cream to a simmer over medium heat. Gabriella Gershenson, WSJ, "Is Boston Cream Pie the World’s Most Delicious...Cake?," 9 Nov. 2018 In a saucepan, whisk the cornmeal into the water and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Caleb Barber,, "Recipe: Pancake lovers will sing with joy over these cornmeal-oat blueberry beauties," 9 July 2018 Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Brining helps meat stay moist during grilling," 23 May 2018 In a small pot, bring 1½ cups of the almond milk to a simmer over medium heat and add the vanilla bean, almond extract, peppercorns and the remaining ¾ cup sugar. Teri Mena, sacbee, "Recipe Mailbox: Flan with apricot preserves (vegan) | The Sacramento Bee," 27 Feb. 2018 Bring to a simmer over medium, and cook until thickened and chicken has absorbed most of the liquid, 5 to 8 minutes. Shay Spence,, "Natalie Morales Dishes on Her Family's Fresh Start in Los Angeles," 23 Feb. 2018 Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for about 6 minutes. Sarah Fritsche, San Francisco Chronicle, "Recipe: El Buen Comer’s Albondigas," 26 Jan. 2018 Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Sunset, "Xocolata (Spanish-Style Hot Chocolate)," 22 Jan. 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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Learn More about simmer

Dictionary Entries near simmer





simmer down



Statistics for simmer

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for simmer

The first known use of simmer was in 1653

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on simmer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with simmer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for simmer

Spanish Central: Translation of simmer

Nglish: Translation of simmer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of simmer for Arabic Speakers

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).


very full or close together

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