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spat1

[spat]
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noun
  1. a petty quarrel.
  2. a light blow; slap; smack.
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verb (used without object), spat·ted, spat·ting.
  1. to engage in a petty quarrel or dispute.
  2. to splash or spatter; rain spatting against the window.
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verb (used with object), spat·ted, spat·ting.
  1. to strike lightly; slap.
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Origin of spat1

An Americanism dating back to 1795–1805; perhaps imitative

Synonyms

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1. tiff, scrap, set-to.

spat2

[spat]
verb
  1. a simple past tense and past participle of spit1.
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spat3

[spat]
noun
  1. a short gaiter worn over the instep and usually fastened under the foot with a strap, worn especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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Origin of spat3

First recorded in 1795–1805; short for spatterdash

spat4

[spat]
noun
  1. the spawn of an oyster or similar shellfish.
  2. young oysters collectively.
  3. a young oyster.
  4. seed oyster.
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Origin of spat4

1350–1400; Middle English; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for spats

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • From spats to hat, from walking coat to gloves, everything was perfect of its kind.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Who ever heard of a goulash poet in a braid-bound cutaway and spats?

  • Squaring his shoulders, he crossed his legs and gazed inscrutably at his spats.

  • But they did frequently have spats, for both were hot-tempered and willful.

  • He had a light top-coat on his arm, and his tan gloves were an exact match for his spats.

    The Wreckers

    Francis Lynde


British Dictionary definitions for spats

spat1

noun
  1. rare a slap or smack
  2. a slight quarrel
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verb spats, spatting or spatted
  1. rare to slap (someone)
  2. (intr) US, Canadian and NZ to have a slight quarrel
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Word Origin

C19: probably imitative of the sound of quarrelling

spat2

verb
  1. a past tense and past participle of spit 1
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spat3

noun
  1. another name for gaiter (def. 2)
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Word Origin

C19: short for spatterdash

spat4

noun
  1. a larval oyster or similar bivalve mollusc, esp when it settles to the sea bottom and starts to develop a shell
  2. such oysters or other molluscs collectively
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Word Origin

C17: from Anglo-Norman spat; perhaps related to spit 1
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

Word Origin and History for spats

spat

n.1

"petty quarrel," 1804, American English, of unknown origin; perhaps somehow imitative (cf. spat "smack, slap," attested from 1823).

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spat

n.2

"short gaiter covering the ankle," 1779, shortening of spatterdash "long gaiter to keep trousers or stockings from being spattered with mud" (1680s), from spatter and dash (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper