Definition of cook in English:



  • 1[with object] Prepare (food, a dish, or a meal) by combining and heating the ingredients in various ways.

    ‘shall I cook dinner tonight?’
    [no object] ‘I told you I could cook’
    ‘a cooked breakfast’
    • ‘They produce much of their own food, cook their own meals, and do their own laundry.’
    • ‘In an ideal world, she said, everyone would prepare and cook their own meals without much salt and fat.’
    • ‘Last night, I actually bought ingredients, cooked dinner, and washed the dishes afterward.’
    • ‘After meals, refrigerate cooked leftovers as soon as possible.’
    • ‘The cause of the fire is not yet known but fire officials are urging homeowners to take care at home particularly while preparing and cooking food.’
    • ‘Or try cooking low fat meals together using foods you both enjoy so you can spend time with each other and eat healthfully.’
    • ‘But then, few of us have the time or the energy anymore to prepare and cook the wholesome food we once enjoyed.’
    • ‘What was once a place solely for preparing and cooking food has become the centre of most homes.’
    • ‘Everyone then headed back to the school kitchens for a health and safety run-through before preparing and cooking the three-course meal.’
    • ‘When you're ready to prepare the dish, cook the pasta, drain it and set it aside.’
    • ‘She did her chores almost mechanically: gathering eggs, cooking meals, washing clothes and buying staples like bread.’
    • ‘Who does the shopping, writes the cards, buys the presents, puts up the decorations, prepares a crib, cooks the food and creates a festive family atmosphere?’
    • ‘The program helps people learn how to budget, plan and cook meals for a food cost of $1.25 per person per day.’
    • ‘Once they have prepared and cooked the two-course meal, the children sit down at a table they have laid and eat together.’
    • ‘The team was also marked on preparing and cooking meals, initiative bases, map and compass and teamwork.’
    • ‘Try to encourage children to help prepare and cook foods.’
    • ‘There are subtle differences between the ingredients you use to cook food in London and the ingredients you use to cook food in Australia.’
    • ‘So when I broke my self-imposed 15-minute limit on preparing and cooking actual food, what did I make?’
    • ‘Never attempt such repair on utensils used for preparing or cooking food.’
    • ‘You need to think about how you prepare, store and cook food to keep it free from harmful bacteria that could make you or other people ill.’
    prepare, make, get, put together
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    1. 1.1[no object](of food) be heated so that the condition required for eating is reached.
      ‘while the rice is cooking, add the saffron to the stock’
      • ‘Many whole-grain pastas cook more quickly than semolina pasta, so check label directions and taste the pasta often as it cooks.’
      • ‘Complement your healthy summer lifestyle with fresh food cooked on the barbecue.’
      • ‘I then add thin slices of lemon cooked gently in sugar syrup.’
      • ‘Many do feel that the food cooked in the microwave oven is not tasty.’
      • ‘Never leave children unattended in kitchen while food is cooking.’
      • ‘Inside the immaculately clean kitchen, bacon cooked in a frying pan on the stove.’
      • ‘As the bacon cooked, the fat on the bacon reached its melting point and turned into liquid, leaving the pure, healthy pork meat behind.’
      • ‘Dinner that night consisted of sizzler sausages cooked on the barbeque, microwave pasta, and yes, chips and dip on the side.’
      • ‘It starts with appetizers, such as kebabs - cubes of marinated meat cooked on skewers.’
      • ‘A dog needs a ratio of two tablespoons lean ground meat per cupful of white rice cooked in chicken broth, fed at the rate of one cup per ten pounds of body weight.’
      • ‘A staple of the Afghan diet is a flat, unleavened bread cooked in clay ovens.’
      • ‘During the 19th century, barbecues on these properties were legendary, with the beef cooking on a spit over a huge fire while ranchers and their ladies danced the night away.’
      • ‘Malays eat rice with fish or meat curry and vegetables cooked in various ways.’
      • ‘Nearby, two huge pots of rice and a bean stew cooked slowly on an open fire.’
      • ‘He added that repeated use of old oil will contaminate food cooked in it increasing the risk of disease and cancer.’
      • ‘She'd be making Chinese sausage cooked with rice and a fried egg, with just a dab of oyster sauce.’
      • ‘Then it is sealed and steamed so that the raw meat cooks in the same time as the rice.’
      • ‘Food cooked in a microwave oven does not present a radiation risk.’
      • ‘I could also smell food cooking back in the kitchen, but could not hear the musicians playing over the dull roar of voices.’
      • ‘Food cooked over wood and water heated with wood felt different, tasted different.’
      sizzle, crackle, fizz, hiss, spit, sputter, crack, snap
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    2. 1.2Heat food and cause it to thicken and reduce in volume.
      ‘cooking down the chutney can take up to 45 minutes’
      • ‘In which case, the fruit wasn't cooked down enough.’
      • ‘The solution, food columnist Amy M. Topel suggests in The Green Guide, is to cook tomatoes down to their essence in a paste, so that all through the winter you can add their tangy goodness to pasta sauce, soups, stews and even vinaigrettes.’
      • ‘The idea is to blend the flavors and cook it down until the meat and potatoes are crisp, and the other vegetables are soft and caramelized.’
      • ‘Often the unfermented sweet grapes will be added to the wine, and sometimes the grape juice will be cooked down into a sweetened paste, which can be added to the wine to intensify it.’
      • ‘Roast whole barley, add water, and cook it down - you'll end up with barley malt syrup.’
      • ‘And you cook it down until it resembles pudding.’
      • ‘The skins will be easy to remove after thawing, and you can add the tomatoes to soups or salads, or cook them down for sauce or ketchup.’
      • ‘Mary gets together with friends and makes 40 to 50 quarts of tomato juice by cutting up all the fruit that's neither rotten nor moldy, cooking it down until it's soft, then put it through a food mill and can what comes out of the bottom.’
      • ‘After simmering for a period of time, remove the sack with the residue and continue to cook the tea down to a thick moist mat at the bottom of the pot.’
      • ‘I also cooked down some apples into apple mush so that we can use that in a smoothie today.’
      • ‘One traditional dish that I did not sample is a curious bowl of fat rendering from the ‘fat back’ of a pig (basically the skin with all the fat attached) that they cook down into concentrated lard (think Crisco), mix in bacon, salt, and pepper.’
  • 2informal [with object] Alter dishonestly; falsify.

    ‘a narcotics team who cooked the evidence’
    • ‘A scientist who believes in the Creator is suspected of cooking the evidence to support his belief.’
    • ‘Brinkley offers no evidence that the numbers were cooked or the questions were unfairly worded.’
    • ‘When I heard that he had cooked his evidence, my first reaction was ‘how stupid’.’
    falsify, alter, doctor, tamper with, interfere with, massage, manipulate, rig, misrepresent
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    1. 2.1Be in an inescapably bad situation.
      ‘if I can't talk to him, I'm cooked’
      • ‘Certainly the subtext of Andersen's book is that we of the media class - even if he allows his alter ego a better fate - are cooked.’
      • ‘There was steam coming out of McLeish's ears from early yesterday, a sure sign that, like his team, the Rangers manager is also cooked.’
  • 3informal [no object] Be happening or planned.

    ‘what's cooking on the alternative fuels front?’
    • ‘Meanwhile, more than 8,000 miles away in Mongolia, another egg surprise was cooking.’
    • ‘Evidently this has been cooking for several months, but the word recently leaked out, and a paper has been rushed to the online edition of Science.’
    happen, go on, occur, take place
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  • 4North American informal [no object] Perform or proceed vigorously or well.

    ‘the band used to get up on the bandstand and really cook’
    • ‘Ya boy Santana's back like cooked… well, you know the rest.’
    • ‘The album doesn't really get cooking until its second half, where the songs have agendas other than beating listeners senseless.’
    • ‘By the end of their set, when they played ‘Burn Baby Burn’ from their new Free All Angels, they were really cooking.’
    • ‘Luckily, these guys love to cook - whoever isn't cutting tracks is cooking!’


  • A person who prepares and cooks food, especially as a job or in a specified way.

    ‘a short order cook’
    ‘I'm a good cook’
    • ‘Instead, the heady aroma of cooking kept everyone awake and waiting to taste the fare prepared by a native cook, who donned the role of lecturer for the day.’
    • ‘In addition to the pre-packaged food, a cook prepares a selection of three hot buffet style meals and one salad daily.’
    • ‘The biggest change in food television over the last five years has been the move away from showing cooks prepare food to revealing how they manage their careers and lives.’
    • ‘The cook prepared a small bag of food for the girl's journey; she tied it to her travel sack.’
    • ‘I knew a cook who would routinely prepare an extra portion for himself to eat before he came to table.’
    • ‘But when I got home I found that our cook had prepared this delicious chicken, and I just couldn't say no!’
    • ‘I'm not going to eat something a cook prepares if she doesn't taste it first.’
    • ‘Many have open kitchens where you can see firsthand that there are no health-code violations, plus you can watch the cooks preparing your food.’
    • ‘It's not her fault the cook hasn't prepared my food properly.’
    • ‘She was a great cook and excelled at preparing food.’
    • ‘One of the beautiful things about this open-plan restaurant is that you can watch the cooks prepare your food as you enjoy the surroundings.’
    • ‘The competition, held annually as part of the wine festival, brings together fine pastry chefs and cooks from the region's restaurants and hotels to compete.’
    • ‘Phoenix sat back and watched as they gorged themselves on all manner of foods the cooks had so nicely prepared for her.’
    • ‘I became aware of the cooks preparing food for us, and the servers serving us, and I began to feel grateful that they were all working so that I could sit!’
    • ‘Pat always eats on board and even has a full-time cook to prepare the finest food on his salubrious floating residence.’
    • ‘The U.S. Department of Agriculture outlines food handling tips to help cooks prepare turkeys that won't cause sickness.’
    • ‘All over America on this day, short order cooks and chefs were making eggs over easy with great success.’
    • ‘Johnny, who was a professional cook, prepared a roast calf and served it with his ever so special mashed potato-gravy sauce.’
    • ‘He teaches his cooks to prepare his recipes, his way.’
    • ‘Or, a cook might prepare ‘fried corn,’ by cutting the grains off of the cob and creaming them in a skillet.’
    cook, cordon bleu cook, food preparer
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  • cook the books

    • informal Alter facts or figures dishonestly or illegally.

      • ‘But stakeholders in government (the citizens) don't see a correspondingly immediate and painful financial consequence when their government cooks the books.’
      • ‘The effects were caused, however, by the crooks who cooked the books.’
      • ‘Historical fact is one thing, but cooking the books where science is concerned is another altogether.’
      • ‘‘Tanning salons are an extremely popular way to clean up dirty money because there is a lot of potential for cooking the books,’ said one former member of the Scottish Crime Squad.’
      • ‘He, or rather those cooking the books for him, attempts to scare us with projections that the Social Security trust fund will begin to run deficits thirty-eight years from now.’
      • ‘And while it is very difficult for investors to know if a company is cooking the books until it's too late, they don't have to be completely in the dark about questionable management activities and dealings.’
      • ‘This procedure tells the students that the teacher is more than likely to be a cheat and a sneak, who will cook the books if given a chance.’
      • ‘He was a crook who absolutely cooked the books to hide his crimes.’
      • ‘These people who have succumbed to the temptations of cooking the books and just become greedy at the expense of the people who trusted them - there's no excuse for that.’
      • ‘But in the cases that we refer to the criminal authorities, it is pretty clear that these are people who were deliberately and knowingly cooking the books.’
      • ‘Yes, I mean, Martha was not a white-collar criminal raiding a corporate community chest, cooking the books.’
      • ‘Does he engage in dishonest schemes such as cooking the books?’
      • ‘Certainly, none of these CEOs has been accused of looting the company or cooking the books.’
      • ‘He has largely done it, because he claims insurance companies, with the collusion of regulators, have been cooking the books for years.’
      • ‘The guidelines, created by the government in 1991, instruct federal judges on how to punish organizations guilty of crimes such as fraud, polluting, and cooking the books.’
      • ‘When a company cooks the books, its best bet is to come clean itself.’
      • ‘But then analysts stepped in and said, in effect, ‘We know the company and it's not cooking the books.’’
      • ‘Even his enemies find it hard not to admire the skill with which he cooks the books.’
      • ‘My administration will do everything in its power to end the days of cooking the books and shading the truth and breaking our laws.’
      • ‘‘The fact is, it is too easy to cook the books if there is no regulatory structure to check it,’ he said.’
  • cook someone's goose

    • Cause someone's downfall.

      ‘I've got enough on you to cook your goose’
      • ‘That cooked my goose in the birthplace of selective democracy.’
      • ‘But Australia does have immense, hot cultural strength and flaming pride and we will cook Howard 's goose with it.’
      • ‘Long before our cyclists left for Malaysia, they - or rather the officials - had cooked their goose.’
      • ‘A loss to Spain and a draw with South Africa seemed to have cooked their goose, but they somehow managed to scrape through to the last 16.’
      • ‘In a small rural district, a couple of kids having an off day can cook a school 's goose.’
      • ‘He lost to incumbent Tom Murphy in the Democrat primaries in 1997 and 2001, but many believe the city's financial problems have cooked Murphy 's goose.’
      • ‘That 100% accurate guarantee part was what cooked my goose in the end, but the times were good for over seven years.’
      • ‘Revelation inevitably turned to revolution in 1789, as generous helpings of liberté, égalité and fraternité cooked the king 's goose.’
      wreck, ruin, spoil, disrupt, undo, upset, play havoc with, make a mess of, put an end to, end, bring to an end, put a stop to, terminate, prevent, frustrate, blight, crush, quell, quash, dash, scotch, shatter, vitiate, blast, devastate, demolish, sabotage, torpedo
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  • too many cooks spoil the broth

    • proverb If too many people are involved in a task, it will not be done well.

      • ‘Do too many cooks spoil the broth in the Rathbun household?’
      • ‘Remember, too many cooks spoil the broth, but think of the concept that two heads are better than one!’
      • ‘And so it looks as though it was a case of too many cooks spoil the broth.’
      • ‘There is no such thing as too many cooks spoil the broth when it comes to making soup for the homeless, and the Salvation Army know this.’
      • ‘We've heard: too many cooks spoil the broth: just this time it cannot be true.’
      • ‘It is rightly said that too many cooks spoil the broth.’
      • ‘Just when you are thinking too many cooks spoil the broth, suddenly someone will remind you that many hands make light work.’
      • ‘Aside from the inappropriateness of such instigation, too many cooks spoil the broth in monetary policies.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • cook something up

    • Concoct a story, excuse, or plan, especially an ingenious or devious one.

      • ‘What plan is Franklin cooking up in that dark mind of his?’
      • ‘When, in fact, we're several people who cooked this idea up back in 1999, when we were drunk and wondering if all the computers were going to collapse because of Y2K.’
      • ‘I don't have much faith in the plan, no… frankly, Himmler's mad in my book for cooking it up.’
      • ‘I guess I should get back to it, and see if maybe I can accidentally cook something up that's good for this logo.’
      • ‘The company has been cooking up cunning plans to revitalise the business for the past 10 years; yet all it has delivered is relentless decline.’
      • ‘In the meantime, unbeknown to the French, the British and Germans were cooking up their own plan.’
      • ‘Worse still, there was this conspiracy theory that there was no plague at all and that the cases were cooked up by authorities who could be pressured to abandon the anti-plague measures by show of opposition.’
      • ‘I have a hard time believing the leak was cooked up at a meeting - it seems more likely that a couple of top officials cooked it up in the men's room and acted rashly out of the belief that they would never be caught or held accountable.’
      • ‘However, the eldest son decides the family ought to stay put, cooking up a plan to turn the ox and cart back homeward.’
      • ‘Then he leaned close towards his faithful servants, and said in a soft voice, ‘You two really are cooking something up, and I can't wait to find out what it is.’’
      concoct, devise, put together, create, contrive, fabricate, prepare, trump up, hatch, brew, plot, plan, scheme
      invent, make up, think up, dream up
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Old English cōc (noun), from popular Latin cocus, from Latin coquus.