1 of 2


: a person who prepares food for eating
: a technical or industrial process comparable to cooking food
also : a substance so processed


2 of 2


cooked; cooking; cooks

transitive verb

: to prepare (food) for eating by a heating process
Cook the vegetables over low heat for 10 minutes.
The fish was cooked in a wine sauce.
He cooked dinner for his guests.
: concoct, fabricate
usually used with up
cooked up a scheme
: to alter (something, such as records) with the intention of deceiving or misleading : falsify, doctor
The point is that every country's numbers are the result of a specific set of testing and accounting regimes. Everyone is cooking the data, one way or another.Alexis C. Madrigal
see also cook the books
: to subject (something) to the action of heat or fire during preparation
Agents discovered a recipe for cooking meth at his lab …Andrew E. Serwer

intransitive verb

: to prepare food for eating especially by means of heat
We're too busy to cook tonight.
I enjoy cooking for friends.
: to undergo the action of being cooked
The rice is cooking now.
: occur, happen
She tried to find out what was cooking in the committee.
: to perform, do, or proceed well
The jazz quartet was cooking along.
The party cooked right through the night.
cookable adjective
cook one's goose
: to make one's failure or ruin certain

Example Sentences

Noun the hearty meals prepared by the cook at summer camp Verb Cook the onions over low heat. She cooked a great meal. The fish was cooked in a white wine sauce. Carrots can be cooked, but they are often eaten raw. We're too busy to cook at home. He enjoys cooking on the weekends. The rice is still cooking, but it will be ready in 10 minutes. There's something cooking, but he won't say what. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
At the time of her death, Gonzales served as a cook in the Headquarters Supply Company of the 127th Aviation Support battalion. Louis Casiano, Fox News, 25 Feb. 2023 Through her research, Partridge-Brown learned that her mother served as a cook in England and later helped sort mail in France. Faith Karimi, CNN, 23 Feb. 2023 Gonzales was killed at Fliegerhorst Kaserne, a former U.S. Army base in Hanau, Germany, where she was stationed as a cook at the time of her death, the FBI said. Olivia Niland, CBS News, 23 Feb. 2023 And Pepper’s version, though inspired by modern restaurant takes on the dish, is informed by her expertise as a home cook. Eric Kim, New York Times, 22 Feb. 2023 For more than 30 years, Willy Guadalajara has been working as a cook at the various restaurants that have occupied 219 Walnut Ave. Mike Danahey, Chicago Tribune, 22 Feb. 2023 Her mother, Eva Renfrow, worked as a laundress to support their family while her father, Lee Renfrow, worked as a cook. Claretta Bellamy, NBC News, 3 Feb. 2023 As a cook and kitchen manager, he’s taken pride in their menu. Matt Wake |, al, 21 Dec. 2022 Pete Scherer is a cook and baker with a decade of experience across many facets of the Southern California food scene. Pete Scherer, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2023
At home, Shawn likes to cook Italian and French cuisine. Matt Wake |, al, 1 Mar. 2023 How to Mince Garlic to Infuse Your Recipes with Fresh Flavor Over medium heat, cook the sauce until just heated through. Elaine Johnson, Better Homes & Gardens, 28 Feb. 2023 Rapidly boiling water is too intense for the delicate balancing act required to evenly cook all of the raviolo’s elements. Elena Kadvany, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 Feb. 2023 Use its double French doors to access the gourmet kitchen, the ultimate space for anyone who likes to cook and entertain. Karen A. Avitabile, Hartford Courant, 26 Feb. 2023 Reduce heat to medium to medium-low and let cook, stirring occasionally, 30 to 40 minutes. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, 23 Feb. 2023 Today, the pancake remains one of the easiest foods to cook. Grace Linden, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Feb. 2023 Guests who want to cook a fresh seafood meal on the spot can enjoy a beachside fire pit, a grill, and crab cookers. Annie Midori Atherton, Travel + Leisure, 20 Feb. 2023 Gonzalez said handing out tents led to more tent fires, which people typically start to keep warm or to cook food. oregonlive, 18 Feb. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cook.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English, from Old English cōc, from Latin coquus, from coquere to cook; akin to Old English āfigen fried, Greek pessein to cook

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cook was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near cook

Cite this Entry

“Cook.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: one who prepares food for eating


2 of 2 verb
: to prepare food for eating especially by the use of heat
: to go through the process of being cooked
the rice is cooking now
: to think up
cook up a scheme
: to go on : happen
what's cooking


Old English cōc "person who prepares food," from Latin coquus (same meaning), from coquere "to cook" — related to kitchen see Word History at kitchen

Biographical Definition


biographical name

James 1728–1779 English navigator and explorer

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