[ bil-oh ]
See synonyms for: billowbillowedbillowing on

  1. a great wave or surge of the sea.

  2. any surging mass: billows of smoke.

verb (used without object)
  1. to rise or roll in or like billows; surge.

  2. to swell out, puff up, etc., as by the action of wind: flags billowing in the breeze.

verb (used with object)
  1. to make rise, surge, swell, or the like: A sudden wind billowed the tent alarmingly.

Origin of billow

First recorded in 1545–55; from Old Norse bylgja “wave,” cognate with Middle Low German bulge; akin to Old English gebylgan “to anger, provoke”

Other words for billow

Other words from billow

  • un·der·bil·low, verb (used without object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use billow in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for billow


/ (ˈbɪləʊ) /

  1. a large sea wave

  2. a swelling or surging mass, as of smoke or sound

  1. a large atmospheric wave, usually in the lee of a hill

  2. (plural) poetic the sea itself

  1. to rise up, swell out, or cause to rise up or swell out

Origin of billow

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

Derived forms of billow

  • billowing, adjective, noun

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