billow

[bil-oh]

noun

a great wave or surge of the sea.
any surging mass: billows of smoke.

verb (used without object)

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.

verb (used with object)

to make rise, surge, swell, or the like: A sudden wind billowed the tent alarmingly.

Origin of billow

1545–55; < Old Norse bylgja wave, cognate with Middle Low German bulge; akin to Old English gebylgan to anger, provoke
Related formsun·der·bil·low, verb (used without object)

Synonyms for billow

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for billow

Historical Examples of billow



British Dictionary definitions for billow

billow

noun

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

verb

to rise up, swell out, or cause to rise up or swell out
Derived Formsbillowing, adjective, noun

Word Origin for billow

C16: from Old Norse bylgja; related to Swedish bōlja, Danish bölg, Middle High German bulge; see bellow, belly
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

Word Origin and History for billow
n.

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.)).

v.

1590s, from billow (n.). Related: Billowed; billowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper