billow vs wallow what difference

what is difference between billow and wallow



From Middle English *bilowe, *bilewe, *bilwe, *bilȝe, borrowed from Old Norse bylgja, from Proto-Germanic *bulgijō. Cognates include Danish bølge, Norwegian Bokmål bølge, Norwegian Nynorsk bylgje, Middle High German bulga and Low German bulge.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈbɪləʊ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈbɪloʊ/
  • Rhymes: -ɪləʊ


billow (plural billows)

  1. A large wave, swell, surge, or undulating mass of something, such as water, smoke, fabric or sound
    • 1782, William Cowper, “Expostulation”, in Poems by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq..
      [] Whom the winds waft where’er the billows roll, / From the world’s girdle to the frozen pole;
    • 1842, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Wreck of the Hesperus”, in Ballads and Other Poems.
    • 1873, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Brook and the Wave” in Birds of Passage:
      And the brooklet has found the billow / Though they flowed so far apart.
    • 1893 August, Rudyard Kipling, “Seal Lullaby”, in “The White Seal”, National Review.



billow (third-person singular simple present billows, present participle billowing, simple past and past participle billowed)

  1. To surge or roll in billows.
    • 1942, Emily Carr, The Book of Small, “Chain Gang,”[1]
      The nuns’ veils billowed and flapped behind the snaky line of girls as if the sisters were shooing the serpent from the Garden of Eden.
  2. To swell out or bulge.




Alternative forms

  • waller


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈwɒ.ləʊ/
  • Rhymes: -ɒləʊ

Etymology 1

From Middle English walowen, walewen, walwen, welwen, from Old English wealwian (to wallow, roll), from Proto-Germanic *walwijaną (to roll), from Proto-Indo-European *welw-, from Proto-Indo-European *welH- (to turn, wind, roll).


wallow (third-person singular simple present wallows, present participle wallowing, simple past and past participle wallowed) (intransitive)

  1. To roll oneself about in something dirty, for example in mud.
  2. To move lazily or heavily in any medium.
  3. To immerse oneself in, to occupy oneself with, metaphorically.
    • 1995, The Simpsons Season 7 Episode 1, Who Shot Mr. Burns?, written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein:
      With Smithers out of the picture I was free to wallow in my own crapulence.
  4. To live or exist in filth or in a sickening manner.
    • God sees a man wallowing in his native impurity.
    • 1895, The Review of Reviews (volume 11, page 215)
      The floors are at times inches deep with dirt and scraps of clothing. The whole place wallows with putrefaction. In some of the rooms it would seem that there had not been a breath of fresh air for five years.
  5. (Britain, Scotland, dialect) To wither; to fade.
Usage notes

In the sense of “to immerse oneself in, to occupy oneself with”, it is almost exclusively used for self-indulgent negative emotions, particularly self-pity. See synonyms for general or positive alternatives, such as revel.

  • (to immerse oneself in): bask, delight, indulge, luxuriate, revel, rollick
Derived terms
  • wallow in the mire


wallow (plural wallows)

  1. An instance of wallowing.
  2. A pool of water or mud in which animals wallow, or the depression left by them in the ground.
    • 2003, Suzann Ledbetter, A Lady Never Trifles with Thieves:
      Soon, the incessant wind would dry the stenchy wallow to corduroyed cement.
  3. A kind of rolling walk.

Etymology 2

(From inflected forms of) Old English wealġ, from Proto-Germanic *walwo-. Cognate with Dutch walg (disgust), dialectal Norwegian valg (tasteless). Compare waugh.


wallow (comparative more wallow, superlative most wallow)

  1. (now dialectal) Tasteless, flat.

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