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

Smoke from smoldering heavy fuels inside the containment lines may be visible and crews will be extinguishing hot spots Sunday. Bay City News, The Mercury News, "Oak Fire at Kelseyville contained at 53 acres," 8 Sep. 2019 More than a dozen firefighters responded to the Highland Village mobile home park near the 200 block of Northeast 49th Street shortly after 9:15 a.m. to find the covered carport smoldering. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Lightning suspected as cause of mobile home fire," 12 Sep. 2019 Not to be outdone, model Paloma Elsesser smoldered in a black Valentino gown. Vogue, "The 17 Best Fashion Instagrams of the Week: Diplo Wears Overalls, Erykah Badu Struts, and More," 30 Mar. 2019 Around the same time, a landfill along the shipyard’s western border caught fire and smoldered for weeks before the Navy notified the EPA and city. Jason Fagone,, "Report: Navy altered Hunters Point cleanup to cover, not remove, toxic soil," 14 Aug. 2019 The territory lying between the two nuclear armed nations was already one of Asia’s most dangerous and militarized flash points, smoldering for decades. New York Times, "Inside Kashmir, Cut Off From the World: ‘A Living Hell’ of Anger and Fear," 10 Aug. 2019 The territory lying between the two nuclear armed nations was already one of Asia’s most dangerous and militarized flashpoints, smoldering for decades. Sameer Yasir,, "Confusion, rage, and protest grip cutoff Kashmir," 10 Aug. 2019 And the spacecraft built to carry astronauts into deep space was now smoldering atop a rocket in Florida. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The Greatest Leap, part 1: How the Apollo fire propelled NASA to the Moon," 16 July 2019 These can be lit and will smolder long enough to be used to ignite the fuse without risking catching anything else on fire or burning the user. Eric Adams, Popular Mechanics, "How to Have Fun (and Stay Safe) During This Year's Fireworks-Filled Fourth," 1 July 2019

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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Statistics for smolder

Last Updated

3 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for smolder

The first known use of smolder was in 1529

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on smolder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with smolder

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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