AskDefine | Define kettle

Dictionary Definition



1 a metal pot for stewing or boiling; usually has a lid [syn: boiler]
2 the quantity a kettle will hold [syn: kettleful]
3 (geology) a hollow (typically filled by a lake) that results from the melting of a mass of ice trapped in glacial deposits [syn: kettle hole]
4 a large hemispherical brass or copper percussion instrument with a drumhead that can be tuned by adjusting the tension on it [syn: kettledrum, tympanum, tympani, timpani]

User Contributed Dictionary



(Northumbrian) cetel, from West Germanic *katil, probably from catillus, diminutive of cantīnus ‘food-vessel’. Cognate with Dutch ketel, German Keßel, West Frisian tsjettel (English did not follow the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law in this occasion)



  1. A vessel for boiling a liquid or cooking food, usually metal and equipped with a lid.
    To cook pasta, you first need to put the kettle on.
    There's a hot kettle of soup on the stove.
  2. The quantity held by a kettle.
  3. A vessel for boiling water for tea; a teakettle.
    Stick the kettle on and we'll have a nice cup of tea.
  4. A pothole.
  5. The collective noun for a group of airborne hawks.
  6. In the context of "rail transport|slang": A steam locomotive
  7. A kettledrum.
  8. A kettle hole.

Usage notes

In British English, if not specified otherwise, the kettle usually refers to a vessel for boiling the water for tea.


vessel for boiling a liquid or cooking food
quantity held by a kettle
  • Finnish: kattilallinen
See: pothole
group of airborne hawks
  • Finnish: parvi
slang: steam locomotive
  • Finnish: patarumpu
kettle hole
  • Finnish: suppa

Extensive Definition

A kettle is a kitchenware piece. Depending on culture and historical location, in the context of bathware the word kettle can have a variety of meanings. In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada and South Africa, a kettle is a device used to quickly heat water for hot drinks, such as tea or coffee. It is normally constructed out of durable plastic or steel (with a plastic handle) and powered by mains electricity. Once the water has reached boiling, the [kettle automatically deactivates] to prevent the water boiling away and damaging the heating element. Sometimes stove-mounted metallic kettles are used having a steam whistle that indicates when the water has reached boiling point, and prior to the invention of the electric kettle, this was the most common way of heating drinking water.
Corded kettles generally use detachable IEC C15 and C16 connections.
"Cordless" kettles became popular in the 1980s and 1990s consisting of a plastic base that connects to the mains outlet and a separate kettle. They both have electrical contacts that connect to supply power to the kettle when it is placed on top of the base, and the kettle can be easily detached to allow movement to the sink and elsewhere.
Similar to the electric kettle is the electric water boiler, a vacuum flask with a heating element that boils water and maintains it at a constant temperature. These are particularly popular in East Asia.
In the United States, a kettle usually refers to the stovetop metallic version with a steam whistle.
Elsewhere in the world (and sometimes in the United Kingdom) the word kettle can refer to a metal pot for boiling or stewing, and a kettle is probably the most ancient kind of metal cooking utensil.
The word kettle originates from Latin catillus, which in various contexts is translated as bowl, deep dish, or funnel.

Specific types

A kettle, sometimes called teakettle, tea kettle or the pot, is a small kitchen appliance used for boiling water in preparation for making tea or other beverages requiring hot water. Kettles may be electric or for stovetop use.
A kettle has a spout and (usually) a lid, though there are also lidless kettles, filled with water through the spout. Some kettles have a whistle attached to the spout, to signal the moment when the water starts boiling, though electric kettles switch themselves off when the water is boiling.



kettle in Arabic: غلاية
kettle in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Імбрык
kettle in Czech: Rychlovarná konvice
kettle in Welsh: Tegell
kettle in German: Pfeifkessel
kettle in Spanish: Caldera (cocina)
kettle in French: Bouilloire
kettle in Korean: 주전자
kettle in Hebrew: קומקום
kettle in Dutch: Fluitketel
kettle in Cree: ᑏᐅᔅᒋᐦᒄ
kettle in Japanese: やかん
kettle in Low German: Ketel
kettle in Polish: czajnik
kettle in Portuguese: Chaleira
kettle in Romanian: Ibric
kettle in Simple English: Kettle
kettle in Slovenian: Lonec
kettle in Vlaams: Moor
kettle in Yiddish: טשייניק
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