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 smouldering (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 The depictions are disturbingly romantic: seminude invaders among smoldering monuments, preening with bloodlust and concupiscence. Cullen Murphy, The Atlantic, "The Man Who Sacked Rome," 9 June 2020 Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson told the Opelika-Auburn News that motorists saw the cross begin to fall onto the overpass railing and attempted to move the smoldering object away from the overpass. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "FBI and local authorities investigating cross burning over Alabama overpass," 5 June 2020 Ionization sensors are designed to detect invisible smoke particles and are associated with flaming fires (most common in house fires), while photoelectric smoke detectors can quickly detect smoke tied to smoldering fires. Nicole Bradley, Better Homes & Gardens, "6 Best Smoke Detectors to Keep Your Family Safe," 2 June 2020 There’s the smoldering police station torched early Thursday morning by protesters enraged by the death of George Floyd while in custody. Anchorage Daily News, "Unrest devastates a city’s landmark street of diversity," 1 June 2020 Photos show Bank of Punjab president Zafar Masood and at least one other passenger, identified as Muhammad Zubair, after they were freed from the smoldering wreckage. Fox News, "Bank president, second survivor are pulled from wreckage of Pakistan plane crash," 23 May 2020 Bastien and Celine exchange smoldering volleys of animosity, arrogance, and allure. Katie Ward Beim-esche, The Christian Science Monitor, "Mystery and romance swirl together in young adult novel ‘The Beautiful’," 7 Apr. 2020 Maimbourg, 25, appears as a clown with pink suspenders over her breasts, as a kind of human ashtray with smoldering cigarettes pressing into her face, and as a grand guignol figure who has carved her heart out of her chest with a knife. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Cleveland Institute of Art’s 74th annual Student Independent Exhibition displays talents on the rise," 1 Mar. 2020 The aroma of golden bread cooked over smoldering coals lingered in the air. Vincent T. Davis,, "Chuck wagon cook rustles up Old West chow at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo," 15 Feb. 2020

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

12 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Smolder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce smolder (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on smolder

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for smolder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with smolder

Spanish Central: Translation of smolder

Nglish: Translation of smolder for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smolder for Arabic Speakers

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