smol·​der ˈsmōl-dər How to pronounce smolder (audio)
variants or smoulder
smoldered or smouldered; smoldering or smouldering ˈsmōl-d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce smolder (audio)

intransitive verb

: to burn sluggishly, without flame, and often with much smoke
: to be consumed by smoldering
often used with out
: to exist in a state of suppressed activity
hostilities smoldered for years
: to show suppressed anger, hate, or jealousy
eyes smoldering with hate

Examples of smolder in a Sentence

The remains of the campfire smoldered. Her eyes smoldered with anger. Anger smoldered in my heart.
Recent Examples on the Web Their efforts stopped the spread of the flames within hours, but hard-to-reach spots in the thick timbers continued to smolder for days. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 May 2024 Democrats’ smoldering divisions over the war in Gaza flared in New York on Monday, as Representative Jamaal Bowman, one of the House’s most endangered incumbents, debated a party rival over Israel’s war tactics, American military aid and a powerful pro-Israel group. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, 14 May 2024 Despite all efforts, the thick wooden timbers continued to smolder for days. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 May 2024 The framed image of what appears to be a school portrait depicts Bacon circa age 14, in a thick turtleneck and dark jacket, smoldering for the camera. Jack Smart, Peoplemag, 6 May 2024 Photos of the wreckage showed the mangled aircraft still smoldering in a homeowner’s front yard. Tanasia Kenney, Miami Herald, 2 May 2024 The book set a strand of apocalyptic worry about AI smoldering that recently flared up following the arrival of ChatGPT. Will Knight, WIRED, 2 May 2024 Shakira locks in on the camera with a fierce, smoldering intensity and begins rhythmically swaying hips clad in studded black leather. Patricia Alfonso Tortolani, Allure, 1 Apr. 2024 The fire continued to smolder throughout early Monday morning until all spots were completely extinguished. Kira Caspers, The Arizona Republic, 3 Apr. 2024

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

Word History


Middle English smolderen to smother, from smolder smoke, smudge; akin to Middle Dutch smōlen to smolder

First Known Use

1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of smolder was in 1529

Dictionary Entries Near smolder

Cite this Entry

“Smolder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
variants or smoulder
: a slow smoky fire


2 of 2 verb
variants or smoulder
smoldered or smouldered; smoldering or smouldering
: to burn slowly with smoke and usually without flame
fire was smoldering in the pit
: to exist or continue in a hidden or controlled state
discontent smoldered for years before the revolt
: to burn inwardly
anger smoldered in my heart
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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