noun Botany.

a rounded seed vessel or pod of a plant, as of flax or cotton.

Origin of boll

1400–50; late Middle English bolle, perhaps < Middle Dutch bolle (Dutch bol), though formally identical with bowl1




Hein·rich (The·o·dor) [hahyn-rikh tey-aw-dohr] /ˈhaɪn rɪx ˈteɪ ɔˌdoʊr/, 1917–85, German novelist and short-story writer: Nobel Prize 1972. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for boll

Contemporary Examples of boll

  • And cotton crops would often fail when pests like the boll weevil tore through the fields.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Growth Stocks

    The Daily Beast

    October 17, 2014

Historical Examples of boll

  • 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.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for boll



the fruit of such plants as flax and cotton, consisting of a rounded capsule containing the seeds

Word Origin for boll

C13: from Dutch bolle; related to Old English bolla bowl 1



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

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

boll in Science



The seed-bearing capsule of certain plants, especially cotton and flax.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.