What do you call the process of filling up an electric kettle and turning it on? Does set up fit the context? For example:
Please set up the kettle. We need some hot water.
This may be a regional thing, but speaking as an American:
I'd probably say "please put on the kettle". This doesn't make much literal sense -- put what on the kettle? -- but it's a common idiom.
Or, "please start the kettle".
Or more generally: "please make some tea". Sure, this doesn't specify to use a kettle, but that would likely be assumed. As opposed to using what to make tea, a bicycle pump? Oh, okay, you could boil one cup of water in a microwave.
Maybe other phrases. depending on how specific I thought I needed to be.
I don't know of a single word or simple phrase that explicitly expresses the idea of putting water in an electric kettle, plugging it in, and turning it on. Probably because most of the time this is unnecessary detail. If we had an electric kettle and also a kettle that you put on the stove top, would I find it necessary to specify which one I wanted you to use? If I did, then I'd have to spell that out. "Please use the electric kettle to boil some water" or "please make some tea with that cool new electric kettle we just bought" or whatever.
I probably wouldn't say "please boil some water", because you might think I meant in a big pot to make soup or pasta.
If you told me to "set up the kettle", my first thought would be that you had just bought a new kettle and we needed to assemble it. I wouldn't think of pouring water into a kettle and plugging it in as "setting it up".
I think most Brits would say, "Put the kettle on", with both the electricity and the water taken for granted.
It's what we used to say even before we had electricity, and it was enshrined in the nursery rhyme of circa 1800, "Polly put the kettle on," whose deathless lyrics are:
Polly put the kettle on
Polly put the kettle on
Polly put the kettle on
We'll all have tea.
There should of course be a comma after each 'Polly', but when you first hear the song the tense can't be determined immediately, and I like the way the ambiguity is sustained until line four!
There's a second verse which ramps up the tension. Polly is usurped and Sukey is put in charge of the whole operation. The final line carries a powerful emotional charge. I shan't quote it here, gentle reader.
As a first-language speaker, the first word that comes to mind is "boil". That is,
Please boil the kettle. We need some hot water.
This is obviously an idiomatic expression. I wouldn't suggest using "set up" since it isn't idiomatic. Another option you could use is
Please put on the kettle.
Both imply that you are boiling the water within the kettle even though this isn't explicitly stated. Hope this helps!
Options from the comments
pop the kettle on (The Brits are always popping, especially over or "round")
bung the kettle on
boil the kettle
boil the water, I am gasping for a tea (gasping for a tea may be old fashioned now)
In Australia and New Zealand, the phrasing for this is either "put the kettle on" (derived from British usage) or "boil the kettle".
Native speakers in both countries also commonly replace 'kettle' in these phrases with 'jug' (prior to electric appliances being universally available, ceramic jugs and metal kettles were both used for boiling water, and many were later "upgraded" with electric elements).
One might also "click the jug" (in reference to the distinctive sound made when the catch on the switch for an electric kettle is turned on) however this is much less common and only used in some areas. It should be avoided unless the speaker has identified its use locally.
I as an American do not find "boil the kettle" an idiomatic way to say
fill the electric kettle with liquid and then apply the appropriate amount of electrical current to the kettle in order to heat the liquid to some unspecified degree
I cannot recollect a single verb that expresses the combined actions of filling a container with liquid and then immediately taking action to heat the liquid in the container.
You could use "set up" or "prepare" to indicate taking preliminary steps in advance.
Please set up the coffee maker tonight so the coffee will be brewed when we come downstairs in the morning.
But in your sentence you seem to be talking about immediate action, about filling the electric kettle and than immediately turning it on. In that case, "set up" and "prepare" do not convey the sense of immediate action. If you assume that the actions necessary to succeed (such as filling the kettle with water and turning on an electric appliance) will be understood without specification, you can simply say
Please use the electric kettle to heat some water
Please use the electric kettle to boil some water
depending on how hot you want the water to be.
In other words "set up," prepare," and "use" imply rather than specify the individual steps required to complete a process, with "set up" and "prepare" indicating that the final step is to be postponed and "use" indicating that all steps be performed in the appropriate sequence.
Sometimes, however, it is desirable to specify the steps that together form a process. For example, if you are writing detailed instructions on how to use an electric kettle, try
First, fill the kettle with the desired quantity of liquid; then plug the power cord into an electric socket; then turn the kettle on by pushing the green button, and, finally, when the temperature gauge indicates that the liquid has reached the desired temperature, turn the kettle off by pushing the red button.
In any case, I would not say "boil" unless you mean to "heat to boiling." "Heat" is a perfectly accebtable verb.
Nor would I say
Boil the kettle
when you mean
It is of course possible (given enough heat) to reduce metal to a liquid state at which it begins to vaporize, but if your desire is for hot water, applying enough heat to boil steel will result in steam rather than water.
There is an idiomatic locution exemplified by
Boil a kettle of water
but "kettle" there refers to a quantity of water, and the words "of water" must either be specified or clearly indicated by context. And notice the indefinite article.
EDIT Having looked at the other answers, this may be one of those many slight differences that exist between British and American English.
Depending on one's heritage, one might also say "put the billy on" which is grammatically identical to kettle or jug.
Probably more common for those who spent time camping, or maybe working in the fields where your hot water literally came from a billy-can over an open fire.
This is an AU/NZ concept, but should be understood by a Briton or Irish, according to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billycan
I'm surprised nobody's used this one, it's the first thing that came to mind. It is a little bit of a variation though:
Please brew some tea/[hot] water [in the kettle].
("hot" and "in the kettle" might be optional here.)
My second choice would be:
Please make some tea/hot water [in the kettle].
These sound most natural to me.
"Stick on the kettle" is often used in British English. See, for example, the song "Stick the kettle on" by Lucy Spraggan feat. Scouting For Girls. Further discussion can be found here https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/stick-the-kettle-on.2895823/.
"Start" is a commonly used verb, and can imply the performance of all steps necessary to do something. If you ask someone to "start the meeting" that can mean everything from opening up a room to turning on equipment to making opening remarks. "Start the kettle" or "Start the tea" would be a request for everything (water, kettle, electricity, tea) except serving.