Definition of smolder in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Burn slowly with smoke but no flame.

    ‘the bonfire still smoldered, the smoke drifting over the paddock’
    • ‘A single strand of simple, unsophisticated smoke smoldered silently upward; spiraling simperingly into a sunlit bed of stagnant smog.’
    • ‘Burning vehicles smoldered in the middle of the road.’
    • ‘Towering over the run-down streets of Hawaiian Gardens, the casino sports a 10-foot-high volcano that smolders and periodically spits out fire.’
    • ‘A marble fireplace occupied one whole wall, the remains of a fire slowly smoldering in the hearth.’
    • ‘Road signs become illegible through the smoke screen of charcoal burning, cigarettes smoldering in the grass.’
    • ‘If you try to burn it too slowly, the fire will change from flaming to smoldering combustion.’
    • ‘The remaining embers lay smoldering, barely giving off any glow in the dark.’
    • ‘Three crews were brought in to bring the barn blaze under control and the smouldering hay was transported out of the barn on tractors to spread on nearby fields.’
    • ‘Some fires smoldered for weeks, burning down through logging slash and the deep soil until they scorched the rocks below.’
    • ‘Fires had broken out during the night and there were several plumes of dark smoke still smoldering throughout the city.’
    • ‘Cigarettes are designed to smoulder, to burn slowly.’
    • ‘As I was walking back the last night it there was the remains of a pallet smouldering in the smoke.’
    • ‘Several hours after the crash, the building still was smouldering, with black smoke hanging in the air.’
    • ‘When Columbus landed on what is now Puerto Rico, he saw Taino natives slow-roasting meat on a grid over a pit filled with smoldering, burned down wood.’
    • ‘Four pumps from North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service were at Fylingdales Moor helping to finally put out the fire, which has raged and smouldered for five days.’
    • ‘It was simply smouldering, the flames long burned out leaving nothing but some charcoal what was once wood.’
    • ‘Even when the water cannon finally beat back the flames, timbers smoked and embers smouldered until rain finally fell.’
    • ‘The incense will slowly smoulder, filling the room with its delightful fragrance.’
    • ‘So far she could only see fire and the ruins of houses that had already burned down or were smoldering in the flames.’
    • ‘A fuel that burned too fast would explode like a bomb; a fuel that burned too slow would smolder like a barbecue grill.’
    burn slowly, smoke, glow
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    1. 1.1 Show or feel barely suppressed anger, hatred, or another powerful emotion.
      ‘Anna smoldered with indignation’
      • ‘His smouldering gaze met mine, and he gave me an answer, voice low and soft.’
      • ‘I spun on Deron, backing away as I did so, glaring at him with smoldering hatred.’
      • ‘For an instant, as they exchanged glares, Darius suddenly realized that the two of them probably held the same smoldering looks of hatred in their eyes.’
      • ‘His anger had retreated but he could still feel it smouldering within.’
      • ‘Drea fumed, anger smoldering inside, and just when she thought she could be pushed no further, Altair started to sing.’
      • ‘Even as an adult, Jimmy smolders with anger toward his father.’
      • ‘His body is old, but hatred smoulders in his eyes.’
      • ‘He turned his head around and saw Sledge behind him, his face smoldering with hatred.’
      • ‘Ava suddenly became busy tying the makeshift rope together, an excuse not to meet his smoldering gaze.’
      • ‘His dark eyes smoldered with indescribable emotion.’
      • ‘Asgard had seen the accusing look in Terian's face and could not meet the familiar sapphire blue eyes that suddenly smoldered with hatred.’
      • ‘Galen met his gaze without flinching, but hatred flickered behind his smoldering gaze.’
      • ‘His eyes smoldered with hatred and he growled, but finally his eyes dropped respectfully.’
      • ‘Taku's face was emotionless, except for the fury smoldering in his eyes.’
      • ‘Her face was cold, and anger smoldered behind her eyes.’
      • ‘Incensed by his insensitivity and spurred onward by the events earlier in the evening, Lucy's eyes smoldered with resentment.’
      • ‘She pulled it out of his hand as she looked up at him, her eyes smoldering in anger.’
      • ‘Cid took a deep draw, then blew out the blue grey smoke, his eyes smouldering.’
      • ‘When he looked back up at Theron, he could see anger smoldering in his eyes.’
      • ‘The leers given by a few male models were met with a smoldering glare by Nicholas.’
      seethe, boil, fume, burn, simmer, be boiling over, be beside oneself
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    2. 1.2 Exist in a suppressed or concealed state.
      ‘the controversy smoldered on for several years’
      • ‘This book is fascinating not because of exploding bombs and smouldering passions, but because of the perplexing subtleties it offers about a life often judged uninteresting.’
      • ‘After the conflict had been smouldering for many years, it flared up again in August this year in a border dispute between Abkhazia and Georgia over the Kodori Gorge.’
      • ‘But that doesn't quite happen, either, if one is to believe the still smoldering conflicts over birth control that turn up in this study.’
      • ‘Things that even in better writing only smouldered, flare up here in full force.’
      exist unseen, burn, seethe, simmer, fester, lie dormant
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  • Smoke coming from a fire that is burning slowly without a flame.

    ‘the last acrid smolder of his cigarette’
    • ‘But it's cozier in there; the smolder of tobacco fumes collects on the structural beams that maintain the shelter and mixes with raw breath to mildew man and trench shoring.’
    • ‘The smokestacks from the factories of Tokyo were belching black smolder into already fetid air.’
    • ‘Alexander watched the twin red-hot points of fire smoulder in the figure's flesh, but to his amazement, the wound healed before his eyes.’


Late Middle English: related to Dutch smeulen.