The men were already boiling in from the field when he reached the yellow-domed room.

What does "boiling in from the field" mean in this sentence?

  • Would you have a link to the original? "boiling in" could have several different meanings, but there's not enough context to figure it out.
    – Peter
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 7:06
  • It's from page 127 of Frank Herbert's Dune. The complete paragraph is: "The men were already boiling in from the field when he reached the yellow-domed room. They carried their spacebags over their shoulders, shouting and roistering like students returning from vacation."
    – Taro
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 7:11
  • Two sentences are far from enough to give the context here. It would really need to read the whole beginning of the book because the vocabulary used in this book is very particular to the environment created by the author.
    – None
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 10:00
  • @Peter Link to text.
    – None
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


Laure's answer has covered most of the key points, but has missed an important figurative use of the word boiling, which is how (I think) it is being used here.

While boiling is most often used to refer to temperature (boiling hot), or figuratively associated with an agitated, "hot" emotional state (boiling with some emotion, e.g. rage), it can also be used figuratively to describe movement similar to that of boiling water. This definition is roughly synonymous with words like roiling, churning, swirling, agitated, bubbling or seething when they are used to describe or define a movement. E.g. the sea boiled in the storm - which means that the sea was rough, not that it was 100C.

Therefore, the phrase boiling in from evokes an image of fiercely agitated, churning swirling motion when talking about the manner of the people coming in from the field. The people weren't just coming in, they were pouring in, there were a lot of people.


I haven't re-read the book for a long time so I'll try to help you towards a personal understanding of the situation rather than give you a clear-cut explanation, which anyway might be debatable, and "primarily opinion-based" questions and answers are not welcome on Stack Exchange sites.

Although the vocabulary used here is particular to Dune (the words heat and boiling are frequent in the novel) it is of the same type as when we say "I was running up the hill" where the preposition (up) expresses a movement of A ("I" in my example) in relation to B ("the hill" in my example) and the verb (running) an action of A.

In describes a movement, boiling describes an action or a state.

  • the men were (verb) in from the fields.

means that the men who had been in the fields had begun to arrive in the room when "he" reached the room.

  • These men were boiling. The use of this word can imply two things.

    • It's very hot on Dune, when people are not inside an air-conditioned building, they feel very hot, if someone says they are boiling, it means they are very hot.
    • We can also understand boiling in a metaphorical way. In English we can say that someone is boiling with rage which means they are angry, you can also boil with excitement.

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