Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A large wave or swell of water.
  • n. A great swell, surge, or undulating mass, as of smoke or sound.
  • intransitive v. To surge or roll in billows.
  • intransitive v. To swell out or bulge: sheets billowing in the breeze.
  • transitive v. To cause to billow: wind that billowed the sails.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A large wave, swell, surge, or undulating mass of something, such as water, smoke, fabric or sound
  • v. To surge or roll in billows
  • v. To swell out or bulge

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A great wave or surge of the sea or other water, caused usually by violent wind.
  • n. A great wave or flood of anything.
  • intransitive v. To surge; to rise and roll in waves or surges; to undulate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To swell; rise and roll in large waves or surges.
  • To raise in waves or billows.
  • n. A great wave or surge of the sea, occasioned usually by a violent wind: much used in figurative applications, and often, especially in the plural, as merely equivalent to wave: as, the billows of sorrow rolled over him.
  • n. Synonyms See wave.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a large sea wave
  • v. become inflated
  • v. move with great difficulty
  • v. rise and move, as in waves or billows
  • v. rise up as if in waves

Etymologies

From Old Norse bylgja, a wave; see bhelgh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old Norse bylgja, from Proto-Germanic *bulgijōn. Cognates include Danish bølge, Middle High German bulga and Low German bulge. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • If ever it comes into my life again (a friend or family with breast cancer) a billow is the ideal gift.

    A Gift? For Me? You Shouldn't Have!

  • Made from 100% old-vine Roussanne, it's rich and weighty but not ponderous — and its exotic aromas of flowers, fruits and spice simply billow from the glass.

    Ch

  • All the glories of Byzantium seemed to billow from the folds of her long silk stole, which, when she was presenting the Poetry prize to John Haynes, fell from her shoulders like a stream of molten gold.

    52 entries from February 2007

  • Minutes after white smoke began to billow from the Sistine Chapel, bells began to toll.

    USATODAY.com - German conservative named pope; tells Vatican faithful, 'We go forward'

  • Choking: Smoke continues to billow from the Icelandic volcano today as it was revealed British airspace will reopen tomorrow

    legitgov

  • _Sleeping_ is a participial adjective, a word added to a noun to express its quality -- it cannot, with propriety, be compared --- it belongs to the noun "billow," agreeably to

    English Grammar in Familiar Lectures

  • Currently, only a Perlin noise generator is offered, with options to also output the noise through a 'billow' xor ridged-multifractal noise function.

    Softpedia - Windows - All

  • "If you watch them over a few hours, they kind of billow upwards the same way thunderheads do on Earth."

    msnbc.com: Top msnbc.com headlines

  • If you watch them over a few hours, they kind of billow upwards the same way thunderheads do on Earth, "Turtle told Space.

    Softpedia News - Global

  • Smoke continues to billow from the nuclear plants.

    Janet Langhart Cohen: Remembering Isao

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "She unzips her coverall all the way down below her navel. Underneath is naught but billowing pale flesh." (p. 53, Snow Crash)

    December 27, 2010