From Middle English *bilowe, *bilewe, *bilwe, *bilȝe, borrowed from Old Norse bylgja, from Proto-Germanic *bulgijō. Cognates include Danish bølge, Norwegian Bokmål bølge, Norwegian Nynorsk bylgje, Middle High German bulga and Low German bulge.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈbɪləʊ/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈbɪloʊ/
Audio (US) (file) Audio (AU) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɪləʊ
billow (plural billows)
- A large wave, swell, surge, or undulating mass of something, such as water, smoke, fabric or sound
- 1782, William Cowper, “Expostulation”, in Poems by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq.:
- […] Whom the winds waft where'er the billows roll, / From the world's girdle to the frozen pole;
- 1842, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Wreck of the Hesperus”, in Ballads and Other Poems:
- The snow fell hissing in the brine, / And the billows frothed like yeast.
- 1864, Frank Moore, Songs of the Soldiers, page 238:
- The banners outflame the blazing morn, / O'er billows of bayonet, sword, and spear.
- 1893 August, Rudyard Kipling, "Seal Lullaby", in "The White Seal", National Review.
- Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow; / Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
- To surge or roll in billows.
- 1920, Peter B. Kyne, chapter 2, in The Understanding Heart:
- During the preceding afternoon a heavy North Pacific fog had blown in … Scudding eastward from the ocean, it had crept up and over the redwood-studded crests of the Coast Range mountains, […] , billowing steadily eastward, it had rolled up the western slopes of the Siskiyou Range, […]
- 2015, Alison Matthews David, Fashion Victims: The Damages of Dress Past and Present, →ISBN, page 59:
- The black clouds of mercury vapour constantly billowing from the hatter's workshops and out into the streets must have been a horrifying sight.
- To swell out or bulge.
- 1936 June 30, Margaret Mitchell, chapter I, in Gone with the Wind, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, →OCLC; republished New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, 1944, →OCLC:
- Her new green flowered-muslin dress spread its twelve yards of billowing material over her hoops and exactly matched the flat-heeled green morocco slippers her father had recently brought her from Atlanta.
- 1983, Peter De Vries, chapter 9, in Slouching Towards Kalamazoo, page 125:
- She had changed her auburn hair. Instead of wearing it in a billowing puff over her brow, she had gathered it into a ponytail, secured with a length of yellow yarn.