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The verb is derived from Middle English sethen, seeth (to boil, seethe; to cook; etc.) [and other forms],[1] from Old English sēoþan (to boil, seethe; to cook; etc.), from Proto-Germanic *seuþaną (to boil, seethe), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂sewt-, *h₂sew-, *h₂sut- (to move about, roil, seethe).[2]

The noun is derived from the verb.[3]



seethe (third-person singular simple present seethes, present participle seething, simple past and past participle seethed)

  1. (intransitive)
    1. Of a liquid or other substance, or a container holding it: to be boiled (vigorously); to become boiling hot.
      • 1597, Don Richardo de Medico Campo [pseudonym; Richard Lichfield], The Trimming of Thomas Nashe Gentleman, London: [] [Edward Allde] for Philip Scarlet, →OCLC; republished as J[ohn] P[ayne] C[ollier], editor, The Trimming of Thomas Nashe Gentleman (Miscellaneous Tracts, Temp. Eliz. & Jac. I), [London: s.n.], 1870, →OCLC, page 31:
        [W]hen a pot ſeetheth, if we lade it and moove the liquor up and down, even while it ſeetheth, we ſhall make it quiet.
      • 1887, Madison J[ulius] Cawein, “Aspiration”, in Blooms of the Berry, Lewisville, Ky.: John P. Morton and Company, [], →OCLC, page 17:
        Deep Hell! that seethest in thy simmering pit; / Thy thousand throned horrors shall not vie, / Or ever compass it!
    2. (figurative)
      1. Of a liquid, vapour, etc., or a container holding it: to foam or froth in an agitated manner, as if boiling.
        Synonym: bubble
      2. Of a person: to be in an agitated or angry mental state, often in a way that is not obvious to others.
      3. Of a place: to be filled with many people or things moving about actively; to buzz with activity; also, of people or things: to move about actively in a crowd or group.
        • 2011 February, Kate Kingsley, chapter 30, in Kiss & Break Up (Young, Loaded, and Fabulous), New York, N.Y.: Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 201:
          Shock Box was the skankiest bar in Hasted, complete with a cheesy jukebox, cheap pints, and a sweaty club in the basement that seethed every weekend with a superhorny boarding-school crowd.
      4. Of a place: to have inhabitants in an angry or disaffected mood; to be in a state of unrest.
  2. (transitive)
    1. (archaic, chiefly passive voice)
      1. To overboil (something) so that it loses its flavour or texture; hence (figurative), to cause (the body, the mind, the spirit, etc.) to become dull through too much alcoholic drink or heat.
        • c. 1592 (date written), Thomas Heywood, The Foure Prentises of London, [], revised edition, London: [] Nicholas Okes, published 1632, →OCLC, signature K, recto:
          Yee come t'encounter vvith a valiant Foe; / [] ſuch as ſhrinke not / To haue their bloods ſod vvith the dog-dayes heate, / Nor to be crudled vvith cold Saturnes Rod: []
        • 1599, [Thomas] Nashe, Nashes Lenten Stuffe, [], London: [] [Thomas Judson and Valentine Simmes] for N[icholas] L[ing] and C[uthbert] B[urby] [], →OCLC, page 45:
          [F]oorthvvith her eyes bred her eye-ſore, the firſt vvhite vvhereon their tranſpiercing arrovves ſtuck, being the breathleſſe corps of Leander: vvith the ſodaine contemplation of this piteous ſpectacle of her loue, ſodden to haddocks meate, her ſorrovve could not chooſe but be indefinite, []
        • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Mirth and Merry Company Remedies”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy, [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 2, section 2, member 6, subsection 4, page 380:
          Floriſhing vvits and men of good parts, good faſhion, good vvorth, baſely proſtitute themſelues to euery rogues company, to take Tobacco, and drinke, to ſing ſcurrile ſongs. [] They drovvn their vvits, ſeeth their braines in ale, []
        • 1813, S[amuel] T[aylor] Coleridge, Remorse. A Tragedy, [], 2nd edition, London: [] W. Pople, [], →OCLC, Act II, scene i, page 25:
          'Tis a poor Ideot Boy, / Who sits in the Sun, and twirls a Bough about, / His weak eyes seeth'd in most unmeaning tears.
      2. To soak (something) in a liquid; to drench, to steep.
    2. (obsolete)
      1. To boil (something); especially, to cook (food) by boiling or stewing; also, to keep (something) boiling.
        • 1530 January 27 (Gregorian calendar), W[illiam] T[yndale], transl., [The Pentateuch] (Tyndale Bible), Malborow [Marburg], Hesse: [] Hans Luft [actually Antwerp: Johan Hoochstraten], →OCLC, Genesis xxv:[29], folio xxxiiij, verso:
          Iacob ſod potage ⁊ Eſau came from the feld ⁊ was faine []
        • 1579 November 20 (Gregorian calendar), Thomas Stevens, “A Letter Written from Goa, the Principall Citie of All the East Indies, by One Thomas Steuens an Englishman, and Sent to His Father, M. Thomas Steuens, An. 1579”, in Richard Hakluyt, The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation, [], London: [] George Bishop and Ralph Newberie, deputies to Christopher Barker, [], published 1589, →OCLC, page 162:
          When we had paſſed againe the line, and were come to the third degree, or ſomewhat more, we ſawe crabs ſwimming on the water that were red as though they had bene ſodden, but this was no signe of land.
        • 1653, Henry More, “The Seeds and Signatures of Plants, Arguments of a Divine Providence”, in An Antidote against Atheisme, or An Appeal to the Natural Faculties of the Minde of Man, whether There Be Not a God, London: [] Roger Daniel, [], →OCLC, book I, page 66:
          Capillus Venerus, Polytrichon or Maydenhaire, the lye in vvhich it is ſodden or infus'd, is good to vvaſh the head and make the haire grovv in thoſe places that are more thin and bare.
        • 1828 May 15, [Walter Scott], chapter V, in Chronicles of the Canongate. Second Series. [] (The Fair Maid of Perth), volume III, Edinburgh: [] [Ballantyne and Co.] for Cadell and Co.; London: Simpkin and Marshall, →OCLC, page 103:
          [B]eef, mutton, and venison [] were cut into joints and seathed in cauldrons made of the animal's own skins, sewed hastily together and filled with water; []
        • 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter V, in The History of England from the Accession of James II, volume I, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, →OCLC, page 634:
          So many dead bodies were quartered, that the executioner stood ankle deep in blood. He was assisted by a poor man whose loyalty was suspected, and who was compelled to ransom his own life by seething the remains of his friends in pitch.
        • 1933, “Nazir (‘The Nazirite-vow’)”, in Herbert Danby, transl., The Mishnah [], London; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, 3rd division (Nashim (‘Women’)), paragraph 6.9, page 289:
          When he had cooked or seethed the Peace-offering, the priest took the sodden shoulder of the ram and one unleavened cake out of the basket and one unleavened wafer and put them upon the hands of the Nazirite and waved them.
        • 2010, James Enge, Travellers’ Rest, Amherst, N.Y.: Pyr Books, →ISBN:
          Seethe some of that in Gar Vindisc's good water and bring it to us. Bread, too, as long as you don't make it from shellbacks.
      2. (obsolete, physiology) Of the stomach: to digest (food).
        • 1638, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Of the Soule and Her Faculties”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy. [], 5th edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed [by Robert Young, Miles Flesher, and Leonard Lichfield and William Turner] for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 1, section 1, member 2, subsection 5, page 20:
          Elixation is the ſeething of meat in the ſtomack, by the ſaid naturall heat, as meat is boyled in a pot; []


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seethe (plural seethes)

  1. (chiefly figurative) A state of boiling or frothing; ebullition, seething; hence, extreme heat; much activity.

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  1. ^ sẹ̄then, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ Compare “seethe, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2023; “seethe, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ seethe, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2023.