a metal container in which to boil liquids, cook foods, etc.; pot.
Geology. kettle hole.

Origin of kettle

before 900; Middle English ketel < Old Norse ketillLatin catillus, diminutive of catīnus pot; replacing Old English cetel, cietelLatin as above; compare German Kessel Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for kettle

pot, steamer, boiler, cauldron, vessel, vat, teakettle

Examples from the Web for kettle

Contemporary Examples of kettle

  • The kettle was adamantly calling the pot black as Netanyahu accused Iran of doing all sorts of shady things with nuclear power.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Netanyahu’s Iran Soliloquy at the U.N.

    Maysoon Zayid

    October 2, 2013

  • The Nazi-hunting era that began with the thunder of a kettle drum at the Nuremberg trials in 1945 ended with a whimper in 2011.

    The Daily Beast logo
    America’s Shameful Nazi Past

    Richard Rashke

    January 27, 2013

  • At that point I half expected Emmanuel Radnitsky to appear with a pot and a kettle, and paint them both black.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Man Ray Revealed

    Philip Gefter

    November 12, 2009

Historical Examples of kettle

British Dictionary definitions for kettle



a metal or plastic container with a handle and spout for boiling water
any of various metal containers for heating liquids, cooking fish, etc
a large metal vessel designed to withstand high temperatures, used in various industrial processes such as refining and brewing
British informal an enclosed space formed by a police cordon in order to contain people involved in a public demonstration
short for kettle hole


(tr) British informal (of a police force) to contain (people involved in a public demonstration) in an enclosed space

Word Origin for kettle

C13: from Old Norse ketill; related to Old English cietel kettle, Old High German kezzil; all ultimately from Latin catillus a little pot, from catīnus pot
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 kettle

Old English cetil (Mercian), from Latin catillus "deep pan or dish for cooking," diminutive of catinus "bowl, dish, pot." A general Germanic borrowing (cf. Old Saxon ketel, Old Frisian zetel, Middle Dutch ketel, Old High German kezzil, German Kessel). Spelling with a -k- (c.1300) probably is from influence of Old Norse cognate ketill. The smaller sense of "tea-kettle" is attested by 1769.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

kettle in Science



A steep, bowl-shaped hollow in ground once covered by a glacier. Kettles are believed to form when a block of ice left by a glacier becomes covered by sediments and later melts, leaving a hollow. They are usually tens of meters deep and up to tens of kilometers in diameter and often contain surface water.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with kettle


In addition to the idiom beginning with kettle

  • kettle of fish

also see:

  • pot calling the kettle black
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.