Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia.


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.

[Origin unknown.]
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.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.roiled - aroused to impatience or angerroiled - aroused to impatience or anger; "made an irritated gesture"; "feeling nettled from the constant teasing"; "peeved about being left out"; "felt really pissed at her snootiness"; "riled no end by his lies"; "roiled by the delay"
displeased - not pleased; experiencing or manifesting displeasure
2.roiled - (of a liquid) agitated vigorouslyroiled - (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"


1. Having sediment or foreign particles stirred up or suspended:
2. Violently disturbed or agitated, as by storms:
References in classic literature ?
On the afternoon of a certain fine Sunday when the waves of four months had roiled over the trial for treason, and carried it, as to the public interest and memory, far out to sea, Mr.
Summary: The rupee closed in on its record low on Wednesday morning as rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and the possibility of a withdrawal of monetary stimulus by the US Federal Reserve roiled risk assets.
6 percent on Monday after comments by the central bank governor, has been roiled by investor concerns of new regulations proposed by the market watchdog.
Sri Lanka's intensifying offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which it has fought since 1983 in one of Asia's longest insurgencies, has roiled India's political scene and prompted heated diplomatic exchanges between the two neighbours.
Eddie Taketa joined him for a reprising duet and the two veterans roiled delectably through the juiciest of Varone's movement, exchanging cues and grins.
About two months ago, neighbors said, another homicide roiled the normally quiet area.
An ambitious recruiting campaign will be roiled out using Weichert's highly respected Career Night model and a promise of "the best agent training in the industry.
Its surface is speckled with dark spots and roiled by energy-packed storms that shoot out massive clouds of charged particles and magnetic fields.
The issue of evolution has roiled Texas politics for several years.
Mill closings, which roiled the paper stock markets throughout the past five years, appear to be easing.
By the point dinner roiled around, I was more than ready to start with a creamy soup, then move on to steak with fries (drowning in peppercorn sauce--yum).