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A problematic situation that will gradually increase in severity until it reaches calamitous proportions, such that the people involved or affected by it will not notice the danger until it is too late to act. It is a metaphor taken from an anecdotal parable about boiling a frog, in which a frog placed in boiling water will immediately try to save itself, but one placed in cool water that is gradually brought to a boil will not notice the heat until it is boiled to death. Drug addiction is often a boiling frog, as many people don't see their addiction as problematic until it has consumed their lives.
boiling frog syndrome
The failure to accept, acknowledge, or act against a problematic situation that will gradually increase in severity until it reaches calamitous proportions. It is a metaphor taken from an anecdotal parable about boiling a frog, in which a frog placed in boiling water will immediately try to save itself, but one placed in cool water that is gradually brought to a boil will not notice the heat until it is boiled to death. Many environmentalists accuse naysayers of having boiling frog syndrome, not accepting that damage is being done until the earth is polluted beyond repair.
Of an object, the weather, or a living creature, having an extremely hot temperature. The phrase is an often hyperbolic reference to the boiling point of liquids. I hate July in this part of the country, it's boiling hot down here. Your forehead is boiling hot! I'm taking you to see a doctor.
Furious; extremely angry. The phrase refers to one's "blood boiling," meaning the same thing. John's views were so ignorant and narrow-minded that I was boiling mad after talking to him.
1. One's limit in patience, temper, or equanimity, after which one loses control of one's emotions. Likened to the temperature at which a given liquid boils. I was at my boiling point with the kids last night. All their fighting and shouting drove me crazy!
2. The point at which a situation becomes critical, calamitous, or uncontrollable. Tensions in the region are at their boiling point—full-scale war seems inevitable now.
boil (something) away
To boil a liquid for so long that it evaporates. If you don't put the pasta in the pot soon, you will boil all of the water away.
1. Literally, to reduce the amount of a liquid in a container through boiling. A noun can be used between "boil" and "down" or after "down." You'll get a better, more condensed flavor when you boil down the stock. The sauce will thicken when you boil it down.
2. To reduce or simplify (something) to the most basic, essential, or fundamental element(s). Your essay is far too long. Please try to cut out any superfluous text and boil it down to about 10 pages. The issue really boils down to whether customers will be willing to pay more for the same product or not.
boil (something) out of (something)
To use boiling water to clean a substance (such as a stain) from an item. Do you know if can you boil grass stains out of cotton?
1. Literally, of a liquid, to boil so vigorously that it flows out of its container. If you put too much water in the pot, it might boil over.
2. To become extremely intense or out of control, especially after a period or escalation. Usually said of emotions. Things had been tense between my aunts for months, and those feelings finally boiled over in a yelling match on our family vacation. This protest is in danger of reaching a point where it boils over into a violent confrontation.
1. To prepare food in boiling water. A noun can be used between "boil" and "up" or after "up." I'm just boiling up some pasta for dinner—it will be ready soon.
2. To increase in strength and intensity. Things had been tense between my aunts for a while, but those feelings really boiled up when they were forced to be together for days on our family vacation.
boil with (an emotion)
To express or feel an emotion, typically anger, very intensely. Things are often tense between my mom and my aunt, so when they had to spend days together on our family vacation, they were soon boiling with anger. When I saw that someone had backed into my new car, I immediately boiled with rage.
See also: boil
reach (a) boiling point
1. To reach a limit in patience, temper, or equanimity, after which one loses control of one's emotions. Likened to the temperature at which a given liquid boils. I reached a boiling point with the kids last night. All their fighting and shouting drove me crazy!
2. To reach the point at which a situation becomes critical, calamitous, or uncontrollable. Tensions in the region have reached boiling point—full-scale war seems inevitable now.
keep the pot boiling
1. To ensure that something remains active or engaging. The state department sent a representative to the talks to at least give the appearance of keeping the pot boiling, but it has become apparent that the administration has no real commitment to this cause. To keep the pot boiling in the sequel, the writer-director decided to add the main character's parents to the mix.
2. To continue to rouse, incite, antagonize, or provoke someone or something. It's clear that the country's government intends to keep the pot boiling with separatists living in the outer reaches of their border. It is in their best interest to keep the pot boiling with the insurgency so that they can continue to benefit from financial and military aid.
boil the ocean
To engage in futile tasks. Oh, Ted's still boiling the ocean trying to find and reassemble that document from the shredded bin.
[for a liquid] to overflow while being boiled. (See also boil over (with something).) The sauce boiled over and dripped onto the stove. Don't let the stew boil over!
boil over (with something)
Fig. [for someone] to erupt in great anger. The boss boiled over with anger. Things got out of hand and the crowd's passions boiled over.
boil something down
1. Lit. to condense or thicken something, such as a liquid. I have to boil this gravy down for a while before I can serve it. You boil down the sauce and I'll set the table.
2. Fig. to reduce a problem to its simple essentials. If we could boil this problem down to its essentials, we might be able to solve it. We don't have time to boil down this matter. This is too urgent.
boil something up
Rur. to cook a batch of food by boiling. She boiled some beans up for dinner. She boiled up some potatoes.
have a low boiling point
Fig. to anger easily. Be nice to John. He's upset and has a low boiling point. Mr. Jones sure has a low boiling point. I hardly said anything, and he got angry.
1. Simplify, summarize, or shorten, as in John finally managed to boil his thesis down to 200 pages.
2. boil down to. Be reducible to basic elements, be equivalent to. For example, What this issue boils down to is that the council doesn't want to spend more money. These metaphoric usages allude to reducing and concentrating a substance by boiling off liquid. [Late 1800s]
A climax or crisis; a high degree of fury, excitement, or outrage. For example, The union's disgust with management has reached the boiling point. This metaphoric term alludes to the temperature at which water boils. [Second half of 1700s]
2. have a low boiling point. Become angry quite readily, as in Don't tease her anymore-she has a low boiling point. This phrase means that it takes less heat than usual for a boiling point to be reached. [First half of 1800s] Also see boil over; make one's blood boil.
Erupt in anger, excitement, or other strong emotion. For example, The mere mention of a tax increase will make Kevin boil over. This phrase alludes to overflowing while boiling. [Second half of 1800s]
reach boiling point
1. If an emotion, especially anger, reaches boiling point, it becomes so strong that it cannot be controlled. Her frustration and anger had reached boiling point. Note: You can also say that an emotion is close to boiling point. Tempers were already close to boiling point as the dispute continued for the ninth day.
2. If a situation reaches boiling point, it becomes very dangerous or extreme and cannot be controlled. The situation reached boiling point after an argument between two teenagers, one white, one Asian, outside a fish and chip shop.
keep the pot boiling
If you keep the pot boiling, you do something to make sure that a process does not stop or to make sure that a situation continues to be interesting. I threw in a question, just to keep the pot boiling while my brain caught up. Times being tough, the auctioneers have had to think up new ways of keeping the pot boiling. Note: This expression may refer to meat which is chopped into pieces and cooked in a pot. Alternatively, the `pot' may have been a melting pot, where metal objects were melted down.
keep the pot boilingmaintain the momentum or interest value of something.
1. To make an amount of liquid or food less in quantity or more concentrated by boiling it: You can boil down the leftover juices and make a nice sauce. The soup seemed thin, so I boiled it down.
2. To condense something to its bare essentials; summarize: I boiled down my long report into a short two-page report. This plan is too long for me to read; can you boil it down for me?
3. To have something as a basic or root cause: All of the complaints at work boil down to a lack of good leadership.
1. To rise and flow over the sides of a container while boiling. Used of a liquid: I turned up the heat too high and the soup boiled over.
2. To erupt in violent anger: When I realized I had been robbed, I boiled over and started yelling.
1. To prepare some food by boiling it: I boiled up some lobster for supper. Let's boil the potatoes up and fry them with ham.
2. To grow rapidly and steadily; escalate: Hostilities have been boiling up all over that part of the world.
boil the ocean
tv. to waste one’s time attempting to do the impossible. (see also plowing water.) You’re wasting my time. You might as well be boiling the ocean.
mod. very mad. Mad, I’m not mad. I’m just boiling.
See boiling mad