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. 2019

Examples from the Web for simmering

Contemporary Examples of simmering

Historical Examples of simmering

  • Soon the whole forecastle was simmering with talk about revenge.

    The Pirate of Panama

    William MacLeod Raine

  • Can you ever believe that, I have called you a 'simmering pot of Emerald broth'?

  • Stir fifteen minutes, and, while simmering, flavor with vanilla or lemon.

    Housekeeping in Old Virginia

    Marion Cabell Tyree

  • Harold, just then, had happily uncovered the simmering kettle.

    The Red Tavern

    Charles Raymond Macauley

  • With regard to simmering taps, he also holds a contrary opinion.

    The Labour-saving House

    Dorothy Constance Bayliff Peel

British Dictionary definitions for simmering



to cook (food) gently at or just below the boiling point
(intr) to be about to break out in rage or excitement


the act, sound, or state of simmering

Word Origin for simmer

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 simmering



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper