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[smohl-der] /ˈsmoʊl dər/
verb (used without object)
to burn without flame; undergo slow or suppressed combustion.
to exist or continue in a suppressed state or without outward demonstration:
Hatred smoldered beneath a polite surface.
to display repressed feelings, as of indignation, anger, or the like:
to smolder with rage.
dense smoke resulting from slow or suppressed combustion.
a smoldering fire.
Origin of smolder
1275-1325; (noun) Middle English smolder smoky vapor, dissimilated variant of smorther smother; (v.) Middle English (as present participle smolderende), derivative of the noun
Related forms
unsmoldering, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for smoldering
  • The fire was still smoldering this morning, hampering rescue efforts.
  • smoldering coals beneath a brick surface generated heat around the clock.
  • The brine also attracts the delicate, not the bitter, flavors of smoldering wood chips.
  • smoldering debris and the possibility of additional explosive materials persuaded fire officials to take a cautious approach.
  • Perhaps it was one of those unspoken issues that keep smoldering until something finally ignites it.
  • smoldering coals beneath a brick surface generated heat.
  • After snuffing the fires smoldering around the still red-hot core, they cordon off the area.
  • Their bodies were crushed and dismembered by tons of smoldering rubble.
  • But some might be reluctant to come forward, creating smoldering pockets of infection.
  • smoldering mulch embers waft up from a trench and are blown toward the dummy home.
British Dictionary definitions for smoldering


verb, noun
the US spelling of smoulder
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for smoldering



c.1300 (implied in smoldering), "to smother, suffocate," related to Middle Dutch smolen, Low German smelen, Flemish smoel "hot," from Proto-Germanic *smel-, *smul-. The intransitive meaning "burn and smoke without flame" is first recorded 1520s, fell from use 17c. (though smoldering persisted in poetry) and was revived 19c. Figurative sense "exist in a suppressed state; burn inwardly" is from 1810. Related: Smouldered; smolderingly. Middle English also had a noun smolder meaning "smoky vapor, a stifling smoke."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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