Which is grammatically correct? Are both valid? Is it perhaps regional?

  • Bringing something to a boil.
  • Bringing something to the boil.

I've always heard and said it "a boil" until I heard the cooks on America's Test Kitchen (Bridget Lancaster at least) commonly say "the boil". I figure a professional chef would know how to talk about boiling water, but "the boil" still sounds weird to me.

So what's the deal?

Note that "bringing" is not necessarily part of the phrase. One might say "let it come to a/the boil" or "now that it's reached a/the boil". My question is about "a boil" vs. "the boil".


Oald says "to the boil" is BrE and ""to a boil" AmE. http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/boil_2

  • 1
    I really want to know the reason of downvote. (BrE) Bring the soup to the boil, then allow it to simmer for five minutes. (NAmE) Bring the soup to a boil. – haha Dec 27 '15 at 10:16
  • And I think downvote should be for original question because it lacks any research. – haha Dec 27 '15 at 10:28

I'm from the Deep South, Florida. I've always heard the phrase "to a boil" or "to boiling". The use of the phrase "to the boil" is strange to me. It's like saying "in hospital" instead of "in the hospital". The strange term is probably of British origin, and any Southerners who use it were probably raised in an era where Elizabethan English has taken hold. That's another interesting subject.


I'm thinking this may in fact be regional. I'm in Northern Vermont and never heard "to the boil" until cable tv. And I'd say that it is indeed often Southern cooks who are more likely to use "to the boil." I'm thinking of Bridget Lancaster and Paula Deen, who both use this idiom.
I'd add that "to the boil" suggests, to me, that "the boil" is the same for all liquids, which it is not. "To a boil" suggest the boiling point for that liquid.

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