Definition of simmer in English:



  • 1 (of water or food that is being heated) stay just below boiling point while bubbling gently.

    ‘the goulash was simmering slowly in the oven’
    • ‘When all was mixed, wrapped in muslin, and dumped into two large pans of water simmering on the Aga, the ladies went off to Mar'ton, too, for more shopping.’
    • ‘While the sausages are simmering, remove the grapes from their stems, wash, and place in a bowl.’
    • ‘Add more water if needed while the soup is simmering.’
    • ‘Then a blizzard settles in just before lunch, where live reindeer are tethered outside a yurt and cooked reindeer stew is simmering inside on the fire.’
    • ‘The pot of water was now simmering away, and Nora had not returned.’
    • ‘Over the fire hung a black cast-iron pot, in which a stew was simmering.’
    • ‘I then threw in some fresh lemon juice and about a teaspoon of rose water and let it simmer for another five minutes or so.’
    • ‘While the stew is simmering, cut rounds of pita bread into quarters.’
    • ‘The fire glows, venison stew simmers, the hunter and his mates drink beer and yarn on into a New Zealand night.’
    • ‘Turn heat down to low and allow to simmer until pasta water comes to a boil.’
    • ‘Stirring chopped chocolate in a pan or bowl over hot, not simmering, water maintains an even, low temperature, resulting in glossy, firmly set chocolate.’
    • ‘The pasta and sauces were simmering on the stove.’
    • ‘You could also put a large panful of boiling salted water on to simmer gently so that it will come to the boil quickly at half-time.’
    • ‘The water began to simmer, several lines of bubbles winding their way to the top.’
    • ‘He lifted up the lid of the pot where lamb stew was simmering.’
    • ‘Once the ingredients have simmered slowly in the soup, the chef adds the final seasonings and the alphabet soup is ready to be consumed and enjoyed.’
    • ‘While there was a stew simmering in the kettle, McCole gathered her courage sat down near Terrance.’
    • ‘Sparks danced up around the stew simmering over the fire, the smell wafting around the room.’
    • ‘Two teaspoons of flax seed simmered in one quart water makes a good fiber solution (2 oz per day in juice).’
    • ‘Reduce heat immediately to keep the water simmering, but not boiling.’
    boil gently, not quite boil, cook gently, stew, poach
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object]Keep (food) just below boiling point when cooking or heating it.
      ‘simmer the sauce gently until thickened’
      • ‘If you like a lighter, thinner sauce that tastes like the tomatoes weren't simmered for hours, it's worth a trip to a natural food store like Whole Foods to find this line.’
      • ‘The slightly sweetened pumpkin is simmered until very tender, then covered with garlic-flavoured yoghurt.’
      • ‘Name all your ingredients with the correct measurements given and the length of time you would simmer the stew.’
      • ‘For the young, brought up on MTV and quickie meals and express lines, will spending hours and hours lovingly simmering a pot of degchi mutton be something futile and unimaginable?’
      • ‘The meat is gently simmered for hours and hours until very tender.’
      • ‘The resulting cooking liquid is simmered, seasoned, and served as the accompanying sauce.’
      • ‘Pappa al pomodoro is just what the name suggests - a pap, or mush, made by soaking and simmering stale bread in a tomato sauce.’
      • ‘Try simmering it in chicken stock before you mash it, or perhaps adding it in small cubes to a bean soup.’
      • ‘Passing from deep snowbanks and icy air into a small narrow room with a low ceiling, a bare bulb, and a woodstove upon which simmered a pot of rose-hip tea, we commenced to be steam-cooked with hospitality.’
      • ‘The natural cycle of a charcoal fire in a kettle barbecue matches the stages of cooking paella: browning the chicken, simmering the broth, and cooking the rice.’
      • ‘And then made sure I simmered the sauce long enough to ensure the potato was cooked.’
      • ‘Always remember to simmer the soup, not boil it.’
      • ‘Add chicken stock, season liberally and then simmer the soup for about 40 minutes until all the ingredients are cooked and soft.’
      • ‘The whole thing was simmered in a mild broth, with plenty of garlic and maybe some white wine.’
      • ‘Second, simmer the sauce for as long and over as low a heat as possible.’
      • ‘Skim off any froth that builds on the top - simmer them until they start to break up, then pour the lentils into the vegetable mixture.’
      • ‘He's standing at the stove, simmering spaghetti sauce.’
    2. 1.2Exist in a suppressed state.
      figurative ‘the disagreement simmered for years and eventually boiled over’
      • ‘Well, the tension's been simmering a long time.’
      • ‘The anger simmering underneath the voice was evident.’
      • ‘I stifled a cry, my anger simmering and beginning to subside.’
      • ‘And as he reached the door he could feel his anger still simmering beneath his calm exterior.’
      • ‘But she was unwilling to stir up the resentment she knew was simmering in him, and she, too, remained silent.’
      • ‘The election for the chairman in year 2000 gave rise to these ego clashes that have continued to simmer.’
      • ‘Her voice became silent as the emotions simmered, and soon, Zoe's face emerged again, and she was drying her tears.’
      • ‘It can also lead you to erupt into violent behavior if your anger has been simmering without an outlet.’
      • ‘Don't ever underestimate the public anger still simmering over this issue.’
      • ‘During the whole process I pretended to be engrossed in the novel, although a strong sense of indignation was simmering within.’
      • ‘He thought of the letter and his father, anger simmered so close to the surface.’
      • ‘This had been simmering a long time - his grandparents are Islander fans.’
      • ‘At the same time, resentment simmers beneath the surface.’
      • ‘Ten years later, resentment was still simmering as Concord prepared to celebrate its bicentennial.’
      • ‘There must be a lot of anger and distrust simmering in the melting pot right now that isn't being reported.’
      • ‘But the emotions that simmered behind my carefully casual jokes and comments was not shared.’
      • ‘That was really the beginning of the point at which you could see this resentment that had been simmering for three decades really coming to the surface.’
      • ‘As controversy simmers this summer about problems in wheat production, some are reminded of the role a row about wheat played in the turbulent events of 1277.’
      • ‘But anger is still simmering, and policymakers would be wise to heed it.’
      • ‘They set him up with a variety of jobs after his dismissal, but the resentment was simmering inside him.’
    3. 1.3Show or feel barely suppressed anger or other strong emotion.
      ‘she was simmering with resentment’
      • ‘Timon stood back up, glaring down at the boy, his eyes simmering with anger.’
      • ‘I simmered a bit and put her remark down to her lack of understanding of classic cars.’
      • ‘Aboriginal community leader Lyle Munro said anger in the community had been simmering long before Thomas Hickey's death.’
      • ‘Our security increasingly depends on the hope and progress of other nations now simmering in despair and resentment.’
      • ‘Her speech certainly had the noble accent it acquired when she was simmering with suppressed anger.’
      • ‘Laura Dern plays a troubled housewife, simmering with a quiet anger at the state of her marriage to the laid back academic Mark Ruffalo.’
      • ‘Another reason why this family drama works is every performance is strong and simmering with resentments and disappointments.’
      • ‘Members of the missing Japanese citizens' families continue to simmer with anger after the three rounds of inconclusive talks.’
      • ‘It's a safe bet that the yob putting his dukes up has been soberly simmering all week, but in loosening his inhibitions, it has all come flooding out.’
      • ‘Still simmering with anger, Lebo bowed reluctantly.’
      • ‘Would you simply simmer with resentment, or would you chalk it up, perhaps, to the colleague's superior level of experience?’
      • ‘He simmers with anger and embarrassment for a few days, then confronts Abe for picking on him because he's ‘not a professional.’’
      be furious, be enraged, be angry, be incensed, be infuriated, be beside oneself, have lost one's temper, have a fit, boil, seethe, be boiling over, chafe, rage, be in a rage, rant, rave, rant and rave, storm, fume, smoulder, spit, breathe fire, burn
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4Become calmer and quieter.
      ‘she gave him time to simmer down after their argument’
      • ‘I'll try to make her simmer down a little.’
      • ‘Straight ahead, simmering down or getting ready for another blowup?’
      • ‘After the guy who had called me blasphemous simmered down enough to articulate what he liked about it, he said that ‘it's got that feel of the grand Disney movie.’’
      • ‘Those squalls have since simmered down just a little bit.’
      • ‘Is there continuing jubilation, or has it simmered down a lot?’
      • ‘This brawl simmered down and as referee Pat Moran was dealing with the starting culprits.’
      • ‘I mean, there is a news hole now because the war has simmered down a bit.’
      • ‘‘Now that there's no legal basis, I think all these conflicts will simmer down,’ she said.’
      • ‘When the party began to simmer down, Melanie started to have a headache so she walked into the billiards room to sit on one of the un-occupied leather couches.’
      • ‘There are certainly a lot of people on all sides of this who don't want it simmered down, who want it to keep boiling up for their own political and ideological purposes.’
      • ‘They flashed terrifically, then quickly simmered down to pin points of dazzling white, burning ferociously.’
      • ‘Eventually (after 14 cigarettes and two of those carbonated malt beverages) the hatred simmers down and turns into pity.’
      • ‘Where Good was an energetic collection of unique bouncing melodies, Fiji Baby simmers down with mellow ballads.’
      • ‘Then, almost as abruptly as it came, it simmered down following the ‘drug wars’ of the 1980s and early 1990s.’
      • ‘Since the chevrons went up I'd say accidents have simmered down.’
      • ‘The fire, which later simmered down into a soft golden glow was almost entirely forgotten until the embers were fanned to life by a gust of wind.’
      • ‘The debate has simmered down now to wondering which message they lacked - the centrist or the leftist one, neither of which seems all that promising.’
      • ‘After a period of about half an hour of escalating tension and violence from the police, things simmered down.’
      • ‘After I'd simmered down a bit and savored the sweet release of tension, I realized that I needed to acknowledge how much the thought of his departure from my life had affected me.’
      • ‘After you simmer down and consider the qualified arguments made against you, I will look forward to your reply - public or private.’
      become less angry, cool off, cool down, be placated, let someone smooth one's ruffled feathers, contain oneself, control oneself, become calmer, calm down, become quieter, quieten down, loosen up
      View synonyms


  • [in singular] A state or temperature just below boiling point.

    ‘bring the water to a simmer’
    • ‘Reduce heat to a simmer, then stir well for five minutes, or until the oats have absorbed the liquid.’
    • ‘Reduce the heat and maintain at a simmer until the sides begin to brown, about five minutes.’
    • ‘To prepare beet greens, fill a large skillet with water to a depth of 1 inch and heat to a simmer.’
    • ‘She came into the foyer, her arms crossed, ready to bring the boiling situation back down to a small simmer.’
    • ‘Reduce the heat and maintain at a simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about five minutes.’
    • ‘Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the blackcurrants are completely soft and the juices have run.’
    • ‘To finish the shrimp, in a medium saucepan, bring three cups of the warm reserved bisque to a simmer.’
    • ‘Reduce to a simmer and leave, approximately 30 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and the mixture starts to caramelize.’
    • ‘Reduce the heat to a simmer, then cook for about 25 minutes until the lentils are tender.’
    • ‘Reduce your boiling water to a simmer, and plop two raw bagels in the water.’
    • ‘Bring to a simmer and place the chicken wings around the perimeter of the pan.’
    • ‘Once at boiling point, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for about 25 minutes or until tender, then liquidise and check seasoning.’
    • ‘Bring to a simmer, place in oven and cook until meat is tender, about two hours.’
    • ‘Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.’
    • ‘But just knowing her little brother was inside was enough to make her blood heat to a simmer.’
    • ‘Place the dish over medium heat, and bring the liquid to a simmer.’
    • ‘Let it come to a simmer and cook for one or two minutes, taste and add some seasoning.’
    • ‘Bring to a simmer and cook to infuse flavor, about 20 minutes.’
    • ‘In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the chicken stock to a simmer and maintain the head.’
    • ‘Bring back up to a simmer, cover the pot and lower the heat.’


Mid 17th century: alteration of dialect simper (in the same sense), perhaps imitative.