or smoul·der


verb (used without object)

to burn without flame; undergo slow or suppressed combustion.
to exist or continue in a suppressed state or without outward demonstration: Hatred smoldered beneath a polite surface.
to display repressed feelings, as of indignation, anger, or the like: to smolder with rage.


dense smoke resulting from slow or suppressed combustion.
a smoldering fire.

Origin of smolder

1275–1325; (noun) Middle English smolder smoky vapor, dissimilated variant of smorther smother; (v.) Middle English (as present participle smolderende), derivative of the noun
Related formsun·smol·der·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for smoldered

Contemporary Examples of smoldered

Historical Examples of smoldered

  • In his eyes an underglow, so to call it, smoldered with fascinating vagueness.

    Eleven Possible Cases

    Frank R. Stockton

  • This was the temperament that smoldered in him: the lurking flame that he had to live with daily.

    The Crow's Nest

    Clarence Day, Jr.

  • These smoldered until the storms of '48 fanned them into a fitful blaze.

    Our Foreigners

    Samuel P. Orth

  • Burnt down, smoldered; suffocated by the hateful dust of the commonplace.

  • He smoldered inside, and he laid it to the stir and bustle and noise.

    Poor Man's Rock

    Bertrand W. Sinclair

British Dictionary definitions for smoldered


verb, noun

the US spelling of smoulder
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 smoldered



c.1300 (implied in smoldering), "to smother, suffocate," related to Middle Dutch smolen, Low German smelen, Flemish smoel "hot," from Proto-Germanic *smel-, *smul-. The intransitive meaning "burn and smoke without flame" is first recorded 1520s, fell from use 17c. (though smoldering persisted in poetry) and was revived 19c. Figurative sense "exist in a suppressed state; burn inwardly" is from 1810. Related: Smouldered; smolderingly. Middle English also had a noun smolder meaning "smoky vapor, a stifling smoke."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper