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) \

Definition of smolder

intransitive verb

1a : to burn sluggishly, without flame, and often with much smoke
b : to be consumed by smoldering often used with out
2 : to exist in a state of suppressed activity hostilities smoldered for years
3 : 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Crews are monitoring the other three fires — two within the Boundary Waters and one in Superior National Forest — which are deemed controlled but continue to smolder and smoke. Jennifer Bjorhus, Star Tribune, 14 July 2021 Long after the surface fire has exhausted the plant fuel, the peat fire continues to smolder under the dirt, moving deeper down and also marching laterally. Matt Simon, Wired, 19 May 2021 During the dispute, one of the passenger’s cellphones was damaged and reportedly began to smolder. Michael Hollan, Fox News, 10 June 2021 While the region's heavy snow is enough to extinguish most blazes, scientists say climate change is helping fuel novel wildfires that smolder through the winter, only to reignite in the spring. Faith Karimi, CNN, 22 May 2021 Researchers have developed a computer algorithm that can identify zombie fires that smolder in Arctic, carbon-rich peat soils. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, 19 May 2021 These undead blazes smolder deep underground in carbon-rich peat soils, and then reignite months later. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, 19 May 2021 Subsisting on the meager oxygen available beneath the snow, zombie fires can smolder for months, long after flames above ground have been extinguished. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 22 May 2021 Packed deep within carbon-rich soils and insulated by feet of snow, zombie fires can smolder for months, long after firefighters have extinguished the surface flames. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, 19 May 2021

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

1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for smolder

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

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Time Traveler for smolder

Time Traveler

The first known use of smolder was in 1529

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Statistics for smolder

Last Updated

17 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Smolder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for smolder



English Language Learners Definition of smolder

: to burn slowly without flames but usually with smoke
: to feel a strong emotion but keep it hidden
: to be felt strongly by someone without being directly shown or expressed


variants: or smoulder
smoldered or smouldered; smoldering or smouldering

Kids Definition of smolder

1 : to burn slowly usually with smoke and without flame A fire was smoldering in the grate.
2 : to burn inwardly Her anger smoldered.


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