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 Rain this week helped firefighters finally corral Fraser Island’s fire, though burns are expected to smolder into January. Matthew Abbott, Environment, "Another Australian wildfire ignites—in one of its most unique ecosystems," 18 Dec. 2020 Today, the regions most affected by the uprisings—the Levant and North Africa—still smolder and the basic conditions that prompted the wide-ranging protests—high unemployment, state corruption, poor governance, and lack of freedoms—have only grown. Afshin Molavi, Quartz Africa, "China’s economic impact in the Arab world has soared since the Arab Spring but jobs haven’t," 17 Dec. 2020 Many sites of stellar wreckage still smolder as expanding clouds, and pinpointing their year or even day of origin can help astronomers reconstruct their history, Fields says. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "Stars are dying all across the galaxy—why don’t we see them?," 16 Dec. 2020 Peat fires smolder in the ground for months, suddenly emerging as surface wildfires. Matt Simon, Wired, "Want to Fight the Zombie Fire Apocalypse? Weaponize Math," 5 Nov. 2020 Today's bright, showy supernovae are huge stars, leaving small stars to smolder much longer. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Sad! This Is When the Universe Will Truly End," 24 Aug. 2020 There's some that have been known to smolder, if left unattended to, for that long. Dalton Ross,, "The Walking Dead: World Beyond showrunner takes us through the Blaze of Gory," 12 Oct. 2020 In the south zone, interior fuels continue to smolder throughout the fire area. Peter Fimrite,, "August Complex is first California fire to hit 1 million acres," 5 Oct. 2020 The blaze inched closer, at 97% containment Thursday, but flames continued to smolder and ignite brush fields near the perimeter line, according to a Cal Fire report. Chronicle Staff,, "California wildfires: Live updates Sept. 10-11," 15 Sep. 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

31 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Smolder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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