- 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 for billow on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for billowing
Fleeing residents screamed and moments later an ambulance sped toward the billowing smoke.Palestinians Fleeing Israeli Bombardment in Gaza Have ‘Nowhere Left to Run’
July 20, 2014
There was a sense of ease in the loose white shirt-dresses, billowing skirts, and roomy pajama pants.Band of Outsiders Takes A Hike: Spring / Summer 2014
September 9, 2013
There were no billowing sheets or dramatic scores to lead them through it.The Sex Scenes in ‘The Spectacular Now’ Are Awkward, Honest, and All Too Real
August 2, 2013
The air all around them was filled with a storm of leaves, billowing and drifting and soaring in the gusts.Benjamin Franklin, America’s First Storm Chaser
April 14, 2013
Wearing dashikis, yukatas, and flannel robes—any kind of billowing uni-garment will do the trick.Nathaniel Rich: How I Write
April 3, 2013
He could see it more clearly now, billowing upward in grim portent.The Vagrant Duke
"You said it, Donny-boy," said the misty man by the billowing curtains.Death of a Spaceman
Walter M. Miller
It was as if a sea in unmeasured storm were billowing nearer and nearer.Despair's Last Journey
David Christie Murray
No, it is no gull, it is the wonder-ship flying along with billowing sails.The Crimson Fairy Book
The slope above them was almost covered by the billowing spheres.The People of the Black Circle
Robert E. Howard
- 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 billowing
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.