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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So far she could only see fire and the ruins of houses that had already burned down or were smoldering in the flames.’
    • ‘The remaining embers lay smoldering, barely giving off any glow in the dark.’
    • ‘A marble fireplace occupied one whole wall, the remains of a fire slowly smoldering in the hearth.’
    • ‘If you try to burn it too slowly, the fire will change from flaming to smoldering combustion.’
    • ‘As I was walking back the last night it there was the remains of a pallet smouldering in the smoke.’
    • ‘A single strand of simple, unsophisticated smoke smoldered silently upward; spiraling simperingly into a sunlit bed of stagnant smog.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Road signs become illegible through the smoke screen of charcoal burning, cigarettes smoldering in the grass.’
    • ‘The incense will slowly smoulder, filling the room with its delightful fragrance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Towering over the run-down streets of Hawaiian Gardens, the casino sports a 10-foot-high volcano that smolders and periodically spits out fire.’
    • ‘Cigarettes are designed to smoulder, to burn slowly.’
    • ‘Burning vehicles smoldered in the middle of the road.’
    • ‘Fires had broken out during the night and there were several plumes of dark smoke still smoldering throughout the city.’
    • ‘A fuel that burned too fast would explode like a bomb; a fuel that burned too slow would smolder like a barbecue grill.’
    • ‘Some fires smoldered for weeks, burning down through logging slash and the deep soil until they scorched the rocks below.’
    • ‘Several hours after the crash, the building still was smouldering, with black smoke hanging in the air.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When he looked back up at Theron, he could see anger smoldering in his eyes.’
      • ‘His body is old, but hatred smoulders in his eyes.’
      • ‘His eyes smoldered with hatred and he growled, but finally his eyes dropped respectfully.’
      • ‘I spun on Deron, backing away as I did so, glaring at him with smoldering hatred.’
      • ‘Incensed by his insensitivity and spurred onward by the events earlier in the evening, Lucy's eyes smoldered with resentment.’
      • ‘Her face was cold, and anger smoldered behind her eyes.’
      • ‘Asgard had seen the accusing look in Terian's face and could not meet the familiar sapphire blue eyes that suddenly smoldered with hatred.’
      • ‘His dark eyes smoldered with indescribable emotion.’
      • ‘Ava suddenly became busy tying the makeshift rope together, an excuse not to meet his smoldering gaze.’
      • ‘Taku's face was emotionless, except for the fury smoldering in his eyes.’
      • ‘He turned his head around and saw Sledge behind him, his face smoldering with hatred.’
      • ‘Galen met his gaze without flinching, but hatred flickered behind his smoldering gaze.’
      • ‘His smouldering gaze met mine, and he gave me an answer, voice low and soft.’
      • ‘The leers given by a few male models were met with a smoldering glare by Nicholas.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Things that even in better writing only smouldered, flare up here in full force.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.