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[chat-er] /ˈtʃæt ər/
verb (used without object)
to talk rapidly in a foolish or purposeless way; jabber.
to utter a succession of quick, inarticulate, speechlike sounds, as monkeys or certain birds.
to make a rapid clicking noise by striking together:
His teeth were chattering from the cold.
Machinery. (of a cutting tool or piece of metal) to vibrate during cutting so as to produce surface flaws on the work.
verb (used with object)
to utter rapidly or purposelessly.
to cause to chatter, as the teeth from cold.
purposeless or foolish talk.
a series of waves or ridges on the surface of a piece of metal that has been imperfectly drawn or extruded.
the act or sound of chattering.
online, phone, radio, or other electronic communication among people, often involving a harmful political activity such as espionage or terrorism:
Officials were able to intercept and identify a high level of terrorist chatter in the weeks before the bombing attempt.
Origin of chatter
1200-50; Middle English chateren; imitative
Related forms
chatteringly, adverb
chattery, adjective
outchatter, verb (used with object)
unchattering, adjective
2. clatter, click. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for chatter
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Many of these pages, I fondly foresee, must consist but of the record of their chatter.

    The Middle Years Henry James
  • Marcia has some guests on the porch; he hears their chatter and laughter.

    Floyd Grandon's Honor Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • Red squirrels came down close to my head to chatter and scold and drive me out of the solitude.

    Secret of the Woods William J. Long
  • Can I exercise my thoughts, with the chatter of a parrot in my ears?

    Rita Laura E. Richards
  • The chatter of a squirrel high up somewhere in the branches of an oak, recalled him to his wits.

    Darkness and Dawn George Allan England
British Dictionary definitions for chatter


to speak (about unimportant matters) rapidly and incessantly; prattle
(intransitive) (of birds, monkeys, etc) to make rapid repetitive high-pitched noises resembling human speech
(intransitive) (of the teeth) to click together rapidly through cold or fear
(intransitive) to make rapid intermittent contact with a component, as in machining, causing irregular cutting
idle or foolish talk; gossip
the high-pitched repetitive noise made by a bird, monkey, etc
the rattling of objects, such as parts of a machine
Also called chatter mark. the undulating pattern of marks in a machined surface from the vibration of the tool or workpiece
Derived Forms
chattery, adjective
Word Origin
C13: of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for chatter

early 13c., chateren "to twitter, gossip," earlier cheateren, chiteren, of echoic origin. Cf. Dutch koeteren "jabber," Danish kvidre "twitter, chirp." Related: Chattered; chattering. Phrase chattering class in use by 1893, with a reference perhaps from 1843:

Such was the most interesting side of the fatal event to that idle chattering class of London life to whom the collision of heaven and earth were important only as affording matter for "news!" [Catherine Grace F. Gore ("Mrs. Gore"), "The Banker's Wife," 1843]


mid-13c., originally of birds, from chatter (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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