v. roiled, roil·ing, roils
1. To make (a liquid) turbulent or muddy or cloudy by stirring up sediment: The storm roiled the waters of the harbor.
2. To cause to be in a state of agitation or disorder: wars that roiled the continent for decades.
3. Usage Problem To put in a state of emotional agitation; rile or upset.
1. To move or be in a state of turbulence, especially because of an abundance of something: storm clouds roiling overhead; a stream roiling with salmon.
2. To be agitated or chaotic: when campuses were roiling with demonstrations.
3. To be vexed or upset: a person who is roiling with shame.
Usage Note: The verb roil means literally “to make muddy or cloudy by stirring up sediment,” and this meaning has given rise to a number of figurative uses. Roil can also mean “to be or cause to be agitated.” Not surprisingly, the synonymous verb rile actually began its existence as a variant of roil. The figurative uses appear to unsettle many Usage Panelists since several seemingly unremarkable examples could not elicit acceptance from more than a thin majority. In our 2002 survey, the Panel was given both transitive and intransitive examples. The transitive example The lyrics of the song roiled some Asian students, who felt they were racist was acceptable to 52 percent of Panelists. The phrasal verb roil up found even less favor. Only 44 percent accepted the sentence The administration’s comments have roiled up the university’s professors, who felt the administration was declaring war on tenure. For intransitive uses, the Panel was no more sanguine. Some 54 percent accepted The controversy continued to roil just two days before the primaries. The literal use meaning “to move turbulently” found even fewer takers, with 34 percent accepting It was like wading through surf when a mountainous breaker is roiling toward you. According to most dictionaries, all these uses should be acceptable. The survey results suggest then that many people see these uses of roil as malapropisms for rile. Writers who count themselves in this number can use a synonym like upset or disturb for the transitive uses or boil or roll for the intransitive ones.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
literary full of violent movement; seething; churning; extremely rough
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
|Adj.||1.||roiling – (of a liquid) agitated vigorously; in a state of turbulence; “the river’s roiling current”; “turbulent rapids”
agitated – physically disturbed or set in motion; “the agitated mixture foamed and bubbled”
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.