embroil

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English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

PIE word
*h₁én

The verb is borrowed from French embrouiller (to entangle),[1] from em- (a variant of en- (prefix meaning ‘in; into’)) + brouiller (to confuse, mix up) (ultimately from Vulgar Latin *brodiculāre, from *brodicāre, from Late Latin brodium (broth, stew; mixture), from Frankish *broþ (broth), from Proto-Germanic *bruþą (stock, broth), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrewh₁- (to boil; to brew)).

The noun is derived from the verb.[2]

Verb[edit]

embroil (third-person singular simple present embroils, present participle embroiling, simple past and past participle embroiled) (transitive)

  1. To bring (something) into a state of confusion or uproar; to complicate, to confuse, to jumble.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book II”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 965–967:
      Rumor next and Chance, / And Tumult and Confuſion all imbroild, / And Diſcord with a thouſand various mouths.
    • 1677 (first performance), John Dryden, “To the Right Honourable Thomas Earl of Danby, []”, in All for Love: Or, The World Well Lost. A Tragedy, [], [London]: [] Tho[mas] Newcomb, for Henry Herringman, [], published 1678, →OCLC, Act I:
      Your Enemies had ſo embroyl'd the management of your Office, that they look'd on your Advancement as the Inſtrument of your Ruine.
    • a. 1678 (date written), Isaac Barrow, “Sermon XIII. Not to Offend in Word an Evidence of a High Pitch of Virtue.”, in The Works of Dr. Isaac Barrow. [], volume I, London: A[braham] J[ohn] Valpy, [], published 1830, →OCLC, page 332:
      [It is ill-governed speech] chiefly which perverteth justice, which soweth dissensions, which raiseth all bad passions and animosities, which embroileth the world in seditions and factions, by which men wrong and abuse, deceive and seduce, defame and disgrace one another, []
    • 1705, J[oseph] Addison, “Rome”, in Remarks on Several Parts of Italy, &c. in the Years 1701, 1702, 1703, London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, page 301:
      There are in Rome Tvvo Sets of Antiquities, the Chriſtian and the Heathen. The former, tho' of a freſher Date, are ſo embroil'd vvith Fable and Legend, that one receives but little Satisfaction from ſearching into 'em.
    • 1725, Homer, “Book XII”, in [William Broome], transl., The Odyssey of Homer. [], volume III, London: [] Bernard Lintot, →OCLC, page 157, lines 240–243:
      Novv all at once tremendous ſcenes unfold; / Thunder'd the deeps, the ſmoking billovvs roll'd! / Tumultuous vvaves embroil'd the belovving flood, / All trembling, deafen'd, and aghaſt vve ſtood!
    • 1726, James Thomson, “Winter”, in The Seasons, London: [] A[ndrew] Millar, and sold by Thomas Cadell, [], published 1768, →OCLC, page 185, lines 583–587:
      Then vvould vve try to ſcan the moral VVorld, / VVhich, tho' to us it ſeems embroil'd, moves on / In higher order; fitted, and impell'd, / By VVisdom's fineſt hand, and iſſuing all / In general Good.
    • 1822, [Walter Scott], chapter XIII, in Peveril of the Peak. [], volume IV, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., →OCLC, page 304:
      Buckingham bit his lip, for he saw the introduction of Lady Derby was likely to confuse and embroil every preparation which he had arranged for his defence; []
    • 1866, Euripides, translated by E. S. Crooke, The Ion of Euripides, [], Cambridge: J. Hall and Son; London: Whittaker & Co; Simpkin, Marshall & Co. and Bell and Daldy, →OCLC, page 28, lines 611–616:
      [H]ow shall I fail to be naturally hated by her, when I stand by thee near thy foot, and she, childless as she is, beholds thy beloved one with bitter jealousy, and then either thou abandonest me and hast regard to thy wife, or upholdest me, and embroilest thy house?
    • 2006, Richard J. Lane, “The Counter-canonical Novel: J. M. Coetzee’s Foe and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea”, in The Postcolonial Novel, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Malden, Mass.: Polity Press, →ISBN, page 23:
      Susan is caught up in a plot that already exists, a type of predestination, but she is also disruptive of that plot, embroiling it by making undecidable a series of otherwise clear-cut oppositions: []
  2. To cause (someone) to be drawn into or involved in a difficult situation or state of contention.
    Avoid him. He will embroil you in his fights.
    • 1697, Virgil, “The Seventh Book of the Æneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, page 417, lines 567–570:
      Then vvhen ſhe found her Venom ſpread ſo far, / The Royal Houſe embroil'd in Civil VVar: / Rais'd on her dusky VVings ſhe cleaves the Skies, / And ſeeks the Palace vvhere young Turnus lies.
    • 1741, [Samuel Richardson], “Letter XXXI”, in Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded. [], 3rd edition, volume I, London: [] C[harles] Rivington, []; and J. Osborn, [], →OCLC, page 175:
      VVhat, and imbroil myſelf vvith a Man of Mr. B’s Povver and Fortune! No, not I, I’ll aſſure you!
    • 1996, Susan Leigh Foster, “Pygmalion’s No-body and the Body of Dance”, in Elin Diamond, editor, Performance and Cultural Politics, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, part III (Moving/Seeing: Bodies and Technologies), page 132:
      The effects of dance's narrativization continue to reverberate throughout the contemporary world of dance where the opposition between "abstract" and "representational" movement vocabularies embroils choreographers and critics in endless dilemmas concerning dance's significance.
    • 2016 January 31, William D[avid] Cohan, “Is Huma Abedin Hillary Clinton’s Secret Weapon or Her Next Big Problem?”, in Graydon Carter, editor, Vanity Fair[1], New York, N.Y.: Condé Nast, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2023-03-20:
      Whether it's palatable for the vice-chairman of Hillary [Clinton]'s presidential campaign to be embroiled in allegations of conflicts of interest, obtaining patronage jobs, or misrepresenting time worked remains to be seen.
    • 2020 November 1, Alan Young, “Sean Connery obituary: From delivering milk in Fountainbridge to the definitive James Bond”, in The Scotsman[2], Edinburgh: The Scotsman Publications, JPIMedia Publishing, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2023-09-20:
      [Sean] Connery could by now command massive fees and gained a reputation as a ruthless contract negotiator. He hated the idea of being manipulated by the film industry and was regularly embroiled in lawsuits.
Conjugation[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

embroil (plural embroils) (obsolete)

  1. A state of confusion or uproar; a commotion, a disturbance; also, a quarrel.
  2. A state of anxiety or disturbance of the mind.

Etymology 2[edit]

From em- (a variant of en- (intensifying prefix)) + broil (to expose to great heat; (obsolete) to burn)[3] (from Late Middle English broilen, brulen (to burn; to scorch, singe; (cooking) to broil, grill); [4] further etymology uncertain, possibly from Old French bruler, bruillir, brusler (to burn) (modern French brûler), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerw-, *bʰrew- (to boil; to brew)).[5]

Verb[edit]

embroil (third-person singular simple present embroils, present participle embroiling, simple past and past participle embroiled)

  1. (transitive, obsolete, rare) To set (something) on fire; to burn (something).
    • 1667, attributed to Richard Allestree, “A Survey of the Causes of Disputes; Secondly, Curiosity”, in The Causes of the Decay of Christian Piety. [], London: [] R. Norton for T. Garthwait, [], →OCLC, page 340:
      Indeed if vve vvill be building our Babels, and thus aſſault Omnipotence, 'tis but juſt vve ſhould have our language confounded, and that that knovvledge for vvhich vve boldly attempt to rifle Gods cabinet, ſhould like the Coal from the Altar, ſerve only to embroil and conſume the ſacrilegious invaders.
Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ embroil, v.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023; “embroil, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ † embroil, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023.
  3. ^ † embroil, v.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2023.
  4. ^ broilen, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  5. ^ broil, v.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023; “broil1, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.