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See more synonyms for simmer on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to cook or cook in a liquid at or just below the boiling point.
  2. to make a gentle murmuring sound, as liquids cooking just below the boiling point.
  3. to be in a state of subdued or restrained activity, development, excitement, anger, etc.: The town simmered with rumors.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to keep (liquid) in a state approaching boiling.
  2. to cook in a liquid that is kept at or just below the boiling point.
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  1. the state or process of simmering.
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Verb Phrases
  1. simmer down,
    1. to reduce in volume by simmering.
    2. Slang.to become calm or quiet, as from a state of anger or turmoil: We waited for the audience to simmer down.
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Origin of simmer

First recorded in 1645–55; alteration of earlier simper < ?
Related formssim·mer·ing·ly, adverbre·sim·mer, verbun·sim·mered, adjectiveun·sim·mer·ing, adjective

Synonym study

3. See boil1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for simmer


  1. to cook (food) gently at or just below the boiling point
  2. (intr) to be about to break out in rage or excitement
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  1. the act, sound, or state of simmering
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Word Origin

C17: perhaps of imitative origin; compare German summen to hum
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 simmer


1650s, alteration of simperen "to simmer" (late 15c.), possibly imitative; not thought to be connected to simper (v.). OED says the change is "probably due to a feeling of phonetic appropriateness." Figurative sense, of feelings, "to be agitated" is from 1764. Opposite sense, in simmer down, first recorded 1871, probably from the notion of moving from a full boil to a mere simmer.

I must and will keep shady and quiet till Bret Harte simmers down a little. [Mark Twain, letter, 1871]

Related: Simmered; simmering. The noun meaning "a condition of simmering" is from 1809.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper