Definition of billow in English:



  • 1A large undulating mass of something, typically cloud, smoke, or steam.

    • ‘Allow the billows of thick blue smoke to permeate your atmosphere.’
    • ‘Flying in across a track of pearl and gold laid by the setting sun across the Atlantic, I watched the island shape itself as a dark mass hardening from a billow of pink sea-level clouds.’
    • ‘Your hood's smoking’ and indeed large billows of dark smoke were coming out of the little red sedan.’
    • ‘Large billows of smoke were rising from the platform.’
    • ‘She felt rejuvenated by the water as it washed over her and breathed deep the billows of steam clouding the air like an impregnable fog.’
    • ‘The island looked disastrous, with billows of smoke rising to the skies, the houses on fire.’
    • ‘But it will burn, and that is what our fuel truck did, stubbornly and with thick billows of oily black smoke that would have prevented us from smothering the blaze with sand even if we had not been too tired to lift our shovels.’
    • ‘But when the smoke billows, politicians have to answer to a panicked public, and they often seize the opportunity to push a different agenda.’
    • ‘When we got out on the street we saw a billow of white smoke and the sound was deafening.’
    • ‘I could see planes going down and huge billows of smoke rising from the ground, and in the air, too.’
    • ‘As the sky darkened, eight immense lighting towers lit the rolling, dissolving billows of smoke that issued from a giant single mask built into the architectural tiers of the vast set.’
    • ‘As I turn around, the cheering cries of the people are almost as deafening as the explosion blows the homemade rocket into the clouds amidst billows of white smoke.’
    • ‘Her breath formed in front of her, in billows of clouds.’
    • ‘When she reaches the end of the stage, billows of smoke emit from the dragons' mouths, and the audience oohs and aahs.’
    • ‘Next door is on fire. Poking my head out of the window, I discover great billows of smoke pouring from the old house next door to my building.’
    • ‘Three separate billows of smoke rose into the sky in three separate hollows in the forest below.’
    • ‘Only billows of black smoke from the sunken Arizona.’
    • ‘I've never seen such huge billows of smoke before.’
    • ‘Fires about 60 miles east generated billows of dark smoke that hovered over the racetrack on Friday morning, filtering the light of dawn in a way that made the sun appear as an eerie pink orb.’
    • ‘She said: ‘I went out to the back of the shop to get some stock and saw a billow of black smoke come from under the door.’’
    cloud, mass
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    1. 1.1archaic A large sea wave.
      • ‘For thou didst cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood was round about me; all they waves and they billows passed over me.’
      • ‘All the waves and billows of that wrath passed over Him.’
      • ‘They fought the billows and the waves; their brave hearts failed them not.’
      • ‘The boat swept round with its bow to the east just in time to meet a billow, which, towering high above its fellows, burst completely over the rocks, and appeared to be about to sweep away all before it.’
      • ‘This last astonished me much, for I recollected that at home the sea used to fall in huge billows on the shore long after a storm had subsided.’
      wave, roller, breaker
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  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction (of fabric) fill with air and swell outwards.

    ‘her dress billowed out around her’
    ‘a billowing skirt and shirt’
    • ‘The fine white material of his sleeves billowed out from beneath it his vest, the cloth stained with dirt, sweat, and smears he didn't want to think about.’
    • ‘Cyzarine was wearing a long-sleeved white dress that went to the floor and it billowed out a bit and the fabric was extremely soft.’
    • ‘They awoke to the sound of the windows caving in - and believe they were only saved by the thick curtains, which billowed out by a yard.’
    • ‘Besides, the skirt billowed out when I turned around.’
    • ‘As he stood up slowly from his throne, his straggly dark hair whipped back from his forehead in the now bitter wind, his cloak taking on the image of the wings of a bat as it flapped and billowed out behind him.’
    • ‘White lace curtains billowed out from the tall windows, and I felt I should take my shoes off so as not to stain the white carpet.’
    • ‘At twenty thousand meters, with the pods still traveling at a high velocity, parachutes billowed out from the same boxes that had contained the glider wings.’
    • ‘Skillfully, Annika hoisted herself up onto the moving wagon; her own pale, pastel colored skirt billowed out behind her like a cape.’
    • ‘It was lilac, strapless, had a short train, the top was form fitting, but the bottom billowed out slightly when I walked.’
    • ‘She was sure, though, running at break neck speed, fabric billowing behind her, that something on the outside was now trying to break through.’
    • ‘Pierce had not shifted his gaze from the Spanish ensign, but she suspected that he no longer saw the red and yellow fabric billowing in the breeze.’
    • ‘However, it only resulted in the bed linen billowing up and temporarily obscuring his butler from his sleep-blurred sight.’
    • ‘Her red cloak billowed out from behind as she spun.’
    • ‘Adam's cloak billowed out behind him as he walked.’
    • ‘In a single motion, she had pulled the gown from her shoulders, sending the light fabric billowing onto the floor.’
    • ‘The hills were cool, and a breeze kept his shirt billowed out.’
    • ‘The sails above them billowed out, flapping in the sudden wind.’
    • ‘It was mid-calf, creamy white and strapless, the kind that billowed out around my knees if I twirled around fast enough.’
    • ‘With one pair, the flared cuffs billowed out for about a foot.’
    • ‘He swung her around, her white dress billowed out behind her, until they both ended up cuddling on the ground looking up at the sky.’
    puff out, puff up, balloon, balloon out, swell, fill out, bulge out, belly out
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    1. 1.1 (of smoke, cloud, or steam) move or flow outward with an undulating motion.
      ‘smoke was billowing from the chimney-mouth’
      ‘all I could see was thick, billowing smoke’
      • ‘Thick clouds of black smoke billow out of each of the vehicles, sometimes coming from the exhaust pipe.’
      • ‘As mortars aboard the ammunition truck exploded, they set a nearby fuel tanker truck ablaze, sending clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky.’
      • ‘A large cloud of black smoke billowed above their old den, and the ground shook from the force of heavy machinery at work.’
      • ‘In the mid-distance a cottage is burning, as smoke violently billows and fumes.’
      • ‘A neighbour spotted clouds of smoke billowing from the hall and raised the alarm.’
      • ‘Clouds of smoke billow out of the door when you enter the Botanica Papa Chango in Bridgeport, Connecticut.’
      • ‘I could almost see the smoke billow from her ears.’
      • ‘One firefighter was posted at the top of a ladder to monitor the situation as clouds of smoke billowed from the roof.’
      • ‘The guns leapt backwards with a rolling crash and an immense cloud of dirty smoke billowed back.’
      • ‘After hours of watching the black smoke billow over the top of the mountain, we stood horrified as the flames made their appearance.’
      • ‘Divson lit up a cigarette in his home, letting the purple smoke billow to the ceiling and permeate the drywall exterior.’
      • ‘And, of course, frequent barbecues with clouds of greasy smoke billowing over our fence.’
      • ‘Enormous clouds of black smoke billowed into the sky.’
      • ‘I was headed out at about 10: 30 AM and as I turned on to Long Lane, I noticed a large cloud of smoke billowing into the sky.’
      • ‘I didn't think I was tired quite yet, but as I watched the white smoke billow up in little threads above the fire, my eyelids grew heavy.’
      • ‘By evening, huge clouds of smoke still billowed from the ruins.’
      • ‘Smoke billowed from it in clouds and mushrooms, fuming black whenever a supposed branch fell on it.’
      • ‘Det Garda McHale told the hearing that flames and thick clouds of smoke were billowing from a back window.’
      • ‘A thick cloud of black smoke billowed from the top.’
      • ‘Everything shakes and smoke slowly billows its way from the building.’
      pour, flow
      rolling, swirling, undulating, rising and falling, billowy, swelling, rippling
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Mid 16th century: from Old Norse bylgja.