from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To make the hissing sound characteristic of frying fat.
  • intransitive verb To seethe with anger or indignation.
  • intransitive verb To be very hot.
  • intransitive verb To be very popular, exciting, or interesting.
  • noun A hissing sound.
  • noun The appeal of or the excitement generated by a product or service.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A hissing or sputtering sound.
  • noun Extreme heat, as of a summer day.
  • To make a hissing or sputtering sound, as a liquid when effervescing or acted on directly by heat; make a sound as of frying.
  • To dry and shrivel up with hissing by the action of fire.
  • To be very hot, as if hissing or shriveling.
  • To dry or burn with or as if with a hissing sound: sometimes followed by up.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Prov. Eng. & Colloq. U. S. A hissing sound, as of something frying over a fire.
  • intransitive verb Prov. Eng. & Colloq. U. S. To make a hissing sound; to fry, or to dry and shrivel up, with a hissing sound.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb to make the sound of water hitting a hot surface
  • verb to be exciting or dazzling
  • noun countable the sound of water hitting a hot surface
  • noun uncountable zing, zip, or pizazz; excitement.

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

  • verb make a sound like frying fat
  • verb seethe with deep anger or resentment
  • noun a sizzling noise
  • verb burn or sear with a sizzling sound


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

[Perhaps frequentative of Middle English sissen, to hiss, of imitative origin.]


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word sizzle.



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

  • "We sell the sizzle, not the steak."

    January 20, 2007

  • Hey! Word it up, dude.

    October 17, 2011

  • My brother uses this term to mean 'get a song stuck in someone else's head." If you sizzle someone, you've given them your earworm. It's mostly done intentionally, humming a tune near someone, but it might also just be stuck in your head, and giving it to someone else exorcises it from you. Or it gets the two of you stuck in a self-reinforcing loop.

    You can sizzle yourself if you pick up an object and a song gets stuck in your head. Working in an energy-efficient appliances incentive program, I saw General Electric and Frigidaire a lot. Every new application for the first month, I'd get sizzled by Insane in the Membrane by Cypress Hill "General Electric, ey the lights are blinking" or Two Sleepy People "picking on a wishbone from the Frigidaire."

    Feel free to use this term if you find it useful.

    September 22, 2015