[ ket-l ]
See synonyms for kettle on
  1. a metal container in which to boil liquids, cook foods, etc.; pot.

  1. Geology. kettle hole.

  2. an enclosed area to which demonstrators are herded for containment by police:Journalists were the first to be allowed to leave the kettle.

verb (used with object)
  1. to surround and contain (demonstrators) in an enclosed area:Most demonstrators were too distracted to notice they were being kettled.

Origin of kettle

First recorded before 900; Middle English ketel, from Old Norse ketill, ultimately derived from Latin catillus, diminutive of catīnus “pot”; replacing Old English cetel, cietel, ultimately from Latin as above; compare German Kessel

Words Nearby kettle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use kettle in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for kettle


/ (ˈkɛtəl) /

  1. a metal or plastic container with a handle and spout for boiling water

  2. any of various metal containers for heating liquids, cooking fish, etc

  1. a large metal vessel designed to withstand high temperatures, used in various industrial processes such as refining and brewing

  2. British informal an enclosed space formed by a police cordon in order to contain people involved in a public demonstration

  3. short for kettle hole

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

Origin of 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

Scientific definitions for kettle


[ kĕtl ]

  1. 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.

Other 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.