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[pot-boi-ler] /ˈpɒtˌbɔɪ lər/
a mediocre work of literature or art produced merely for financial gain.
Origin of potboiler
First recorded in 1860-65; pot1 + boiler Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for potboiler
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  • Fanny's First Play, being but a potboiler, needs no preface.

    Fanny's First Play George Bernard Shaw
British Dictionary definitions for potboiler


(informal) a literary or artistic work of little merit produced quickly in order to make money
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 potboiler

also pot-boiler, 1864 in the figurative literary sense, from pot (n.1) + agent noun from boil (v.). The notion is of something one writes solely to put food on the table.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for potboiler



A book, play, etc, written just to get money, esp something done rather badly by a writer who can do very well

[1864+; fr the notion that one does such work only to keep the food pot boiling in the domicile]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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