Definition of kettle in US English:



  • 1A container or device in which water is boiled, having a lid, spout, and handle; a teakettle.

    • ‘The most typical images show the expansive cooking fireplace with a substantial fire blazing away and assorted pots and kettles nearby.’
    • ‘I bought a lovely red kettle from a shop which I walked into on a whim.’
    • ‘Water was boiled in kettles, saucepans and other containers on the top of the stove, and baking done in the oven.’
    • ‘Reports from the prison say the officer was attacked by a prisoner with boiling water from a kettle and received severe scalding to his face and hands.’
    • ‘I move swiftly, filling the kettle with water and allowing it to boil.’
    • ‘As a toddler, he was badly scalded after pulling a kettle of boiling water over himself.’
    • ‘I put it in a large mixing bowl with a capful of detergent and poured boiling water from a kettle onto the square.’
    • ‘The steam rises from the kettle, she pours boiling water into the cup, stirs in milk, begins the ritual of adding sugar.’
    • ‘Coppersmiths were essential to the manufacture of the pans, kettles, and other objects used in the homes and sugar mills.’
    • ‘He glanced in my direction, then back to the new iron kettle, which rattled and hissed.’
    • ‘You can also inhale steam from a kettle or pot of boiling water, taking care not to get so close that you scald yourself.’
    • ‘Pour the water from the kettle into a roasting tin, deep enough to come halfway up the cake tin.’
    • ‘He heard her turning the tap on, pouring cold water into the kettle.’
    • ‘Damry poured some water into a kettle and placed it on the stove.’
    • ‘If at any point the sauce starts to go grainy and curdle, then add a tiny splash of boiling water from the kettle.’
    • ‘I filled the kettle with water and put it on to boil.’
    • ‘I put a kettle of water on the stove with the intention of making tea, hoping that it would lighten the situation.’
    • ‘He filled the kettle with water and set it on the stove to boil, opening a pack of instant ramen noodles after he had finished that.’
    • ‘Coal ranges were widely used for cooking and heating the water, and the kettle was kept boiling on the stove ready for the frequent cups of tea.’
    • ‘He got up and spooned two teaspoons of coffee into a chipped mug, and poured in water from the kettle.’
    • ‘As he rattled cups and spoons and kettles, I examined the box of teabags and tried to think of something charming to say.’
    • ‘He quickly took the cup and kettle away from me, as if I were a criminal.’
    • ‘Imagine you go to your mom's and there is a kettle of water happily boiling on the stove.’
    • ‘Alaiah started to pace again as she watched the news, filled the bath tub with water, and boiled more water in a kettle for tea.’
    • ‘I apologized, pouring some water into the kettle to boil for tea.’
    • ‘Chinese products like toasters, cordless kettles, egg cookers, solar-powered garden lights, toys, toy watches, etc., are compelling but cheap.’
    • ‘I had to boil up the water in an old kettle with a frayed wire.’
    • ‘She poured water into the modem kettle she had brought only a few months ago and plugged it into the socket on the wall, before flicking the switch and waiting.’
    • ‘A coffee pot, a kettle and a couple of pans containing rice and cari poule rested on a steel grill suspended over the embers.’
    • ‘On bath nights (which for me was a Sunday) the baths were taken down and filled with water that had been boiled in the kettle on the gas cooker.’
    • ‘How can a silent teapot, a kettle of boiling water and the delicate aroma of tea possibly compete?’
    • ‘They all used water boiled in the kettle to make drinks.’
    • ‘Jugged hare appeared in recipe books in the early 18th century, the meat and blood placed in a jug and cooked within a larger kettle of water.’
    • ‘Ellie enters the room carrying a kettle and a jug containing bottles of milk.’
    1. 1.1 A large metal pot for cooking, usually with a handle.
  • 2British A small area in which demonstrators or protesters are confined by police seeking to maintain order during a demonstration.

    ‘activists in the kettle were protesting at being held and resisting arrest’
    • ‘Some of the protesters were kept inside the kettle for thirteen hours — until 1:00 the next morning.’
    • ‘The sight from inside the kettle was of a cordon of riot police several deep.’
    • ‘The containment officer will be responsible for freeing anyone caught inadvertently in a police kettle.’
    • ‘One of the activists inside the kettle said: "I'm here because the public sector is getting cut. The people who are getting hurt are the poorest in the country."’
    • ‘The point of a police kettle is to make you feel small and scared, to strike at the childish part of every person that's frightened of getting in trouble.’
    • ‘The former Met assistant commissioner defended police use of the 'kettle' last week.’
    • ‘Members of the public who are "inadvertently" caught up in police kettles should be allowed to leave, the report said, especially those who are vulnerable or distressed.’
    • ‘Judges dismissed their argument that their detention within the kettle in freezing temperatures without food or water for over six hours had breached their human rights.’
    • ‘David Lammy, another former minister, challenged her over minors getting caught up in the kettle, and said complaints over the tactic had been passed to the IPCC.’
    • ‘When the police resorted to kettling tactics during last year's student protests, they didn't offer such facilities to those trapped inside the kettle.’
    • ‘Police were condemned for their treatment of protesters and use of the so-called kettle tactic.’
    • ‘Reporter Michael Howie is among a crowd of thousands of people contained within the police kettle surrounding Fortnum & Mason.’
    • ‘Protesters inside the kettle set fire to a ticket machine in a bus stop, fuelling the fire with placards and newspapers.’
    • ‘Other members of the public who had been passing through the area were confined inside a police kettle for five hours or more.’
    • ‘He said that officers forced demonstrators into such a tight "kettle" on Westminster Bridge that they were in danger of being seriously crushed or pushed into the freezing River Thames.’
    • ‘She gained notoriety when she joined student protestors in Millbank Tower, the home of CCHQ, and tweeted live from within the kettle.’
    • ‘There were 4,500 people within the kettle.’
    • ‘Black was not a protester but was trapped in a police kettle for around seven hours after trying to walk to a local bookshop.’
    • ‘Officials at the Independent Police Complaints Commission said a woman has claimed she was assaulted while held in a kettle.’
    • ‘While many from Cornwall said they saw little disorder, one Truro student found himself held in a kettle in Trafalgar Square after events were taken over by a "minority".’


[with object]British
  • (of the police) confine (a group of demonstrators or protesters) to a small area, as a method of crowd control during a demonstration.

    ‘the plan was to get as close to the protest as possible without getting kettled’
    • ‘In April 2009, at the London G20 protests, UK police responded to peaceful protestors by "kettling" them, then beating them with fists and batons for "failing to disperse".’
    • ‘A large group of protestors, most of whom acted peacefully during the day, were now being "kettled" around the Bank - trapped in a small space without food, water or toilets until they boil.’
    • ‘I hoped to make it a lot more difficult for the police to kettle children but I am at least pleased that the judges have clarified that the welfare of young people should be made a priority.’
    • ‘A sound system was established on the traffic island and pumping for all of 30 seconds before the police decided enough was enough and kettled us.’
    • ‘Due to a combination of cowardice, claustrophobia and Crohn's disease, I do not react well to being kettled at marches.’
    • ‘The police resorted to "kettling" the breakaway protesters, trapping thousands of people in Piccadilly.’
    • ‘Following demonstrations in which paramilitary police "kettled" thousands, first offenders have received two and a half years in prison for minor offences that would not normally carry a custodial sentence.’
    • ‘The Met Police apologised through its Twitter feed to those who had been kettled outside the store.’
    • ‘The authorities must also rethink the controversial tactic of "kettling" participants of mass demonstrations, a report by the Home Affairs Committee said.’
    • ‘Last Tuesday saw yet another twist, as students, anxious to avoid kettling, played a cat-and-mouse game with police all through central London.’
    • ‘Instead, they kettled the students in one place, which is the policing equivalent of a parent using the naughty step rather than a slap to discipline their children.’
    • ‘Halford said that "kettling" is legally justifiable only when there is no alternative to address actual or imminent violence.’
    • ‘Those behind the event had said they wished to draw attention to the "enormous police repression" yesterday which saw thousands of people "kettled" and other peaceful protesters allegedly charged by baton-wielding officers.’
    • ‘Wary of being kettled, we chose to stay mobile, causing disruption on Oxford St and the surrounding area.’
    • ‘These young activists are the same students and school pupils who were kettled in central London on 24 November after demonstrating to protect higher education.’
    • ‘Witnesses say a section of the crowd were ushered from Parliament Square on to Westminster Bridge before being kettled for around three hours until they were released.’
    • ‘The troublemakers are being 'kettled' around Nelson's Column by a ring of several hundred officers.’
    • ‘Police wearing riot gear responded by closing roads and kettling in the protesters outside the mosque, refusing to allow movement between their lines.’
    • ‘The demonstration was to begin at noon but even before all the protesters had gathered the police suddenly swooped in and kettled them.’
    • ‘The court's endorsement means kettling is fast becoming common practice at a wide range of protests.’


  • a different kettle of fish

    • informal A completely different type of person or thing from the one previously mentioned.

      ‘the new office is a rather different kettle of fish’
      • ‘While Gershwin, Porter and Berlin are as famous as the songs they wrote, Arlen is a different kettle of fish.’
      • ‘When it comes to larger mills with decent internal sorting capacities, or multi-mill operations, log sorting is a different kettle of fish.’
      • ‘This weblog with its proud archives is quite a different kettle of fish and a new experience for me socially.’
      • ‘We cannot forget what happened 50 years ago, but things are now a different kettle of fish.’
      • ‘A business PC is a different kettle of fish, and many will be surprised to find that a standard 20GB drive is generous enough for the majority of users.’
      • ‘What's increasingly apparent, too, is that Penn the director is a different kettle of fish to Penn the actor.’
      • ‘To have an estate worth a million dollars is nowadays not too difficult to achieve with fixed assets and enough life assurance, but to be a living cash millionaire is a different kettle of fish for most of us.’
      • ‘But in France - the grape's homeland - Pinot Gris is made into a wine that's altogether a different kettle of fish.’
      • ‘I had netting up to stop herons getting in but the otter is a different kettle of fish and has got through the netting.’
      • ‘Going all the way and winning the title is of course a different kettle of fish and a challenge I would suspect that is beyond them for a while yet.’
  • a fine (or pretty) kettle of fish

    • informal An awkward state of affairs.

      • ‘Jason must inform her that he's gotten himself into a fine kettle of fish by taking over the reigns from Sonny.’
      predicament, plight, tight corner, tight spot, ticklish situation, tricky situation, problem, quandary, dilemma, crisis, mess, muddle
      View synonyms


Old English cetel, cietel, of Germanic origin, based on Latin catillus, diminutive of catinus ‘deep container for cooking or serving food’. In Middle English the word's form was influenced by Old Norse ketill.