boil and boil up

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GandalfMB

Senior Member
Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
Hello,
the reason I am posting this thread is that the two verbs look very similar to me in this sentence "Will you boil up some water?" and "Boil (up) some milk in the saucepan". I can't see any major difference, but I am not a native speaker. What do you think?


Thank you
 
  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I suspect that there may be a difference between American and British English here. I'm not sure though.

    I am British and, speaking for myself, I would only boil water, never boil up water.

    For me 'to boil up' refers to some mixture that needs to be cooked or cured in some way.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    "Boil up" doesn't sound good to me either. Can I say "Could you, please boil the chicken bones and make some stock" or "Keep the chicken bones and boil them to make some stock"? The latter contains "up". Keep the chicken bones and boil them up​ to make some stock. Why? It does sound better however.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    The adverb "up" is used with some verbs to indicate "progress to or towards an end" (OED). There is no major difference between "to fry some eggs" and "to fry up some eggs," "to whip some cream" and "to whip up some cream," "to polish the brasswork" and "to polish up the brasswork," etc., except that (1) the "up" version, as I said, denotes progress towards completion, and (2) the "up" version is generally more colloquial.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Thank you, Glen,
    yes, I agree. I am not a native, but I have heard that it is colloquial. Can you see any major difference between "Keep the bones and boil them (up) to make some stock"?
    Thank you
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Thank you, Glen,
    yes, I agree. I am not a native, but I have heard that it is colloquial. Can you see any major difference between "Keep the bones and boil them (up) to make some stock"?
    Thank you
    Those sound equivalent to me in that context. There are some differences, of course. For one, I would not expect to see "boil them up" printed in a cookbook. For another, you can modify "boil them" by adding "for two hours," while you cannot do that with "boil them up."
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    T... There is no major difference between "to fry some eggs" and "to fry up some eggs..."
    That's why I suspected a difference. In my variety of British English, "to fry up some eggs" sounds very American. I would never use it myself.

    ..."to whip some cream" and "to whip up some cream," ...
    In British English "to whip up some cream" means to make some cream quickly, presumably by skimming it from the top of some full milk.

    whip up
    Meaning: Make food quickly
    Example: We got back late and WHIPPED UP dinner.
    http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/phrasal-verbs/whip+up.html
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm not a cook but I wouldn't really feel comfortable with "boil some bones". I could however "simmer/boil some bones in water" or "boil up some bones"
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    That's why I suspected a difference. In my variety of British English, "to fry up some eggs" sounds very American. I would never use it myself.
    The OED has examples like, "1821 Byron Juan iii. lxiii, Cloves ‥ were boil'd Up with the coffee." It's possible the usage has become more American, but the usage is old. Likewise, "1560 J. Daus tr. Sleidane's Comm. 298 He will commaunde the fathers ‥ to finish up their work begon." (Just to check, does "finish up the work" also sound American to you?)

    In British English "to whip up some cream" means to make some cream quickly, presumably by skimming it from the top of some full milk.
    That would be a different usage of "whip up," but fair point.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    I'm not a cook but I wouldn't really feel comfortable with "boil some bones". I could however "simmer/boil some bones in water" or "boil up some bones"
    I know that "boil up" is the better verb to use here and it does sound better to me. Unfortunately I don't know why :(. Would you say "Boil a few potatoes to make some salad" or you would prefer "boil up" again? I could just say "Put the potatoes/a few potatoes on to boil. but I want something different :). Is it wrong to say "Boil a few potatoes to make some salad"?
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I know that "boil up" is the better verb to use here and it does sound better to me. Unfortunately I don't know why :(. Would you say "Boil a few potatoes to make some salad" or you would prefer "boil up" again? I could just say "Put the potatoes/a few potatoes on to boil. but I want something different :). Is it wrong to say "Boil a few potatoes to make some salad"?
    That's very interesting. My instinct is that you boil potatoes because that is what makes them soft enough to eat. On the other hand you boil up bones because you want to process them - perhaps to remove the goodness from them. You don't want to eat the bones themselves.

    At this point I think I should leave the conversation. Cooking is not my strong point!

    Are there any British cooks who can confirm or deny my assertions?
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    That's a good point, Biffo. When we boil eggs, we usually peel them and eat the goodness :). I wouldn't say "Boil up a few eggs because I am hungry". I must admit that the "up" version of this sentence sounds better to me.
     
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