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[bohl] /boʊl/
noun, Botany.
a rounded seed vessel or pod of a plant, as of flax or cotton.
Origin of boll
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English bolle, perhaps < Middle Dutch bolle (Dutch bol), though formally identical with bowl1


[bœl] /bœl/
Heinrich (Theodor)
[hahyn-rikh tey-aw-dohr] /ˈhaɪn rɪx ˈteɪ ɔˌdoʊr/ (Show IPA),
1917–85, German novelist and short-story writer: Nobel Prize 1972. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for boll
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • On the third day they fade completely, and the development of the boll begins.

  • Gathering the crop before the boll is properly ripened and matured.

    The Story of the Cotton Plant Frederick Wilkinson
  • By that time they have increased so rapidly that there is often one for every boll in the field.

    Agriculture for Beginners Charles William Burkett
  • Of late years the greatest pest has been the Mexican boll weevil.


    William H. Dooley
  • He that eats a boll o' meal in bannocks eats a peck o' dirt.

    The Proverbs of Scotland Alexander Hislop
  • On which he ordered her one boll of meal of her own to be given her.

  • A boll of malt was weekly brewed into ale, which was used by the household at discretion.

    The Abbot Sir Walter Scott
  • To explain this, we must start in by a sort of detour, with the boll Weevil.

    The American Country Girl Martha Foote Crow
  • The occasion of the meetings was the approach of the boll weevil to their districts.

British Dictionary definitions for boll


the fruit of such plants as flax and cotton, consisting of a rounded capsule containing the seeds
Word Origin
C13: from Dutch bolle; related to Old English bollabowl1


/German bœl/
Heinrich (ˈhaɪnrɪç) (Theodor). 1917–85, German novelist and short-story writer; his novels include Group Portrait with Lady (1971): Nobel prize for literature 1972
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for boll

Old English bolla "bowl, cup, pot," merged with Middle Dutch bolle "round object," borrowed 13c., both from Proto-Germanic *bul-, from PIE *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole). Influenced in meaning by Latin bulla "bubble, ball," ultimately from the same PIE root. Extended c.1500 to "round seed pod of flax or cotton." Boll weevil is 1895, American English.

In south Texas, among Spanish-speaking people, the insect is generally known as the 'picudo,' a descriptive name which refers to the snout or beak of the insect. English-speaking planters generally referred to the insect at first as 'the sharpshooter,' a term which for many years has been applied to any insect which causes through its punctures the shedding of the squares or the rotting of the bolls. As there are several native insects that are commonly called sharpshooters and which, though injurious, are by no means to be compared with this insect, it becomes necessary to discourage in every way the use of the word sharpshooter as applied to this weevil. The adoption of the term 'Mexican cotton-boll weevil' for the new pest is recommended. [New Mexico College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 19, April 1896]
A case of entomology meddling in etymology.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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boll in Science
The seed-bearing capsule of certain plants, especially cotton and flax.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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