Word of the Day



to make the sound of food cooking in hot oil

Origin and usage

The word sizzle was first used as early as the 1600s. It is an example of onomatopoeia because it mimics the sound that it describes.


While the most common usage of the word sizzle comes from the sound that it imitates, it can also refer more broadly to things that are very hot even if they do not make any noise. Sizzling can describe any kind of great heat and is not necessarily specific to a stove, oven or grill. A sizzle cymbal is a type of percussion instrument with rivets inserted loosely into holes along the rim so that when the cymbal is played it creates a buzzing, vibrating sound similar to the sound of a sizzling pan.

When heat is added to any substance, the molecules and atoms begin to get stimulated and vibrate more quickly which makes them more reactive to other stimulation. When it is heated by itself, pure oil warms up evenly and does not spit or sizzle, but because water is usually a part of most oil combinations the different densities and heating points cause the water to sink to the bottom and heat up faster than the oil, evaporating into steam and creating a tiny pressurized explosion. The sound of the water bursting up through the oil is what makes a sizzling sound.


“Mirage-gray at the bottom of their granite canyons, the hot streets wavered in the sun, the car tops sizzled and glittered, and the dry, cindery dust blew into my eyes and down my throat.”

(Sylvia Plath)

“I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles.”

(Cole Porter)



View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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