- a great wave or surge of the sea.
- any surging mass: billows of smoke.
- to rise or roll in or like billows; surge.
- to swell out, puff up, etc., as by the action of wind: flags billowing in the breeze.
- to make rise, surge, swell, or the like: A sudden wind billowed the tent alarmingly.
Origin of billow
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for billow
They are in circumstances in which the ripple passes into the wavelet, and the wavelet into the billow.Leading Articles on Various Subjects
It flared briefly and let out with a billow of thick red smoke.Highways in Hiding
George Oliver Smith
Oh, the wreck is on the billow; hasten with the means of safety.The Wesleyan Methodist Pulpit in Malvern
The billow and the wind And the still waters will sweep us away Mercilessly!Life Immovable
The interior of the house was a billow of red, white, and blue.The Clansman
- a large sea wave
- a swelling or surging mass, as of smoke or sound
- a large atmospheric wave, usually in the lee of a hill
- (plural) poetic the sea itself
- to rise up, swell out, or cause to rise up or swell out
Word Origin and History for billow
1550s, perhaps older in dialectal use, from Old Norse bylgja "a wave, a billow," from Proto-Germanic *bulgjan (cf. Middle High German bulge "billow, bag"), from PIE *bhelgh- "to swell" (see belly (n.)).
1590s, from billow (n.). Related: Billowed; billowing.