Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma


[sim-er] /ˈsɪm ər/
verb (used without object)
to cook or cook in a liquid at or just below the boiling point.
to make a gentle murmuring sound, as liquids cooking just below the boiling point.
to be in a state of subdued or restrained activity, development, excitement, anger, etc.:
The town simmered with rumors.
verb (used with object)
to keep (liquid) in a state approaching boiling.
to cook in a liquid that is kept at or just below the boiling point.
the state or process of simmering.
Verb phrases
simmer down,
  1. to reduce in volume by simmering.
  2. Slang. to become calm or quiet, as from a state of anger or turmoil:
    We waited for the audience to simmer down.
1645-55; alteration of earlier simper < ?
Related forms
simmeringly, adverb
resimmer, verb
unsimmered, adjective
unsimmering, adjective
3. See boil1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for simmering
  • Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat until simmering.
  • Brazilians have the right idea, simmering it in coconut milk and cinnamon to make corn pudding.
  • Do it naturally with open windows or simmering spices.
  • They had slaughtered a sheep, and a meal of mutton had been simmering on a wood stove since we'd arrived.
  • We are all a mix, a brew that's been simmering for four billion years.
  • Specific burners for boiling, simmering and warming.
  • Presumably, he meant the communist insurgency still simmering in the border area.
  • Discontent had been simmering since the beginning of the year, after a steep increase in energy prices.
  • Race relations are mainly good, but there are simmering resentments.
  • Even political violence, long an anti-reformist cancer, is simmering down.
British Dictionary definitions for simmering


to cook (food) gently at or just below the boiling point
(intransitive) to be about to break out in rage or excitement
the act, sound, or state of simmering
Word Origin
C17: perhaps of imitative origin; compare German summen to hum
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 simmering
1650s, alteration of simperen "to simmer" (late 15c.), possibly of imitative origin. Figurative sense, of feelings, "to be agitated" is from 1764. Opposite sense, in simmer down, first recorded 1871.
"I must and will keep shady and quiet till Bret Harte simmers down a little." [Mark Twain, letter, 1871]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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