verb (used without object), noun

Related formsun·smoul·der·ing, adjectiveun·smoul·der·ing·ly, adverb


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

Related Words for smoulder

blaze, boil, rage, desire, lust, yearn, tingle, seethe, simmer, bristle, fume, smoulder

Examples from the Web for smoulder

Historical Examples of smoulder

  • Dry and worm-eaten, a spark upon them became a smoulder, and a smoulder a blaze.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Any or all of these emotions might have lain beneath the smoulder in her eyes.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • By this time the clothes of both lads had begun to smoulder.

  • In a moment he had smothered the smoulder, and was beating off the sparks with his ruler.

    Little Aliens

    Myra Kelly

  • My hope was to keep them in, to let them smoulder in their own ashes.


    Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

British Dictionary definitions for smoulder


US smolder

verb (intr)

to burn slowly without flame, usually emitting smoke
(esp of anger, etc) to exist in a suppressed or half-suppressed state
to have strong repressed or half repressed feelings, esp anger


dense smoke, as from a smouldering fire
a smouldering fire

Word Origin for smoulder

C14: from smolder (n), of obscure origin


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 smoulder

see smolder. Related: Smouldered; smouldering; smoulderingly.



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