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Hungarian goulash in a cauldron

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English caudroun, borrowed from Old Northern French caudron, ultimately from Late Latin caldāria (cooking-pot), from Latin caldus (hot). Spelling later Latinized by having an l inserted. See chowder, caldera.

The military sense is a semantic loan from German Kessel; compare English kettling.


  • IPA(key): /ˈkɔːl.dɹən/, (dated) /ˈkəʊl.dɹən/
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cauldron (plural cauldrons)

  1. A large bowl-shaped pot used for boiling over an open flame.
    Synonym: kettle
    • c. 1606 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene i], page 143, column 2:
      Double, double, toile and trouble; / Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble.
    • 1997, J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Raincoast Books, →ISBN, page 102:
      [] I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses … []
    • 2004, Carl Neal, The Magick Toolbox: The Ultimate Compendium for Choosing and Using Ritual Implements and Magickal Tools, Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, →ISBN:
      Large cauldrons are a little tricky to locate, but are well worth the search if you have a place to safely store and use one.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:cauldron.
  2. (military) A strategic encirclement.
    Coordinate term: kettle
    • 1966, George H. Stein, The Waffen SS: Hitler’s Elite Guard at War, 1939–1945, →ISBN, page 217:
      After having defended the constantly shrinking perimeter of their position for over two weeks, the encircled German units in the Cherkassy “cauldron” were ordered to break out.
    • 2012, Hans Wijers, Winter Storm: The Battle for Stalingrad and the Operation to Rescue 6th Army, →ISBN, page 153:
      The cauldron had been formed, and some 2,000 Soviets had been encircled in it; the division estimated this quite a success.
    • 2016, Paul Robinson, “Explaining the Ukrainian Army’s defeat in Donbass in 2014”, in J. L. Black, Michael Johns, editors, The Return of the Cold War: Ukraine, the West and Russia, →ISBN, page 120:
      This could have been avoided had the Ukrainian Army either evacuated the troops in the southern cauldron once it became clear that their position was untenable or reinforced them substantially in order to reopen supply lines.

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