Is 'boiling' a verb or an adjective?


Dear all,

I'd like to know if the word 'boiling' below is a verb or an adjective.

- to cook or wash something in boiling water
- put the noodles into the pot of
boiling water

Seems like an adjective to me, but the dictionaries say 'boiling' (adj)means 'very hot' and it is usually used in the following situation.
It's boiling in here.
It was a boiling hot morning.

Thank you.

  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    It's an adjective in your two example, e.g. ice(d) water, cold water, tepid water, warm water, hot water, boiling water.

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Since "boiling" is also the present participle of a verb, it becomes a verb when associated with "to be".

    Put the noodles into the pot of boiling water = adjective.
    Put the noodles into the pot of water when it is boiling = verb.



    Senior Member
    UK English
    I much prefer to describe boiling as an adverb in a boiling hot day.
    It defines the intensity of the adjective hot (in the same way as very or extremely).


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, the situation is different for the different examples. In 'It's boiling in here', it's an adjective meaning "very hot"; you're not saying something is doing the action of "boil". This adjective can be used as an adverb in 'boiling hot'. However, boiling water really is doing the verb "boil"; it's not just very hot water. Here I don't know whether there's any real justification for saying it's a verb or an adjective but can't be both. I can't think of any grammatical test that would distinguish them - adjectives and verbs both take adverbs, as in 'rapidly boiling water'.
    < Previous | Next >