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[stam-er] /ˈstæm ər/
verb (used without object)
to speak with involuntary breaks and pauses, or with spasmodic repetitions of syllables or sounds.
verb (used with object)
to say with a stammer (often followed by out).
a stammering mode of utterance.
a stammered utterance.
Origin of stammer
before 1000; Middle English stammeren (v.), Old English stamerian (cognate with German stammern), equivalent to stam stammering + -erian -er6; akin to Old Norse stamma to stammer, Gothic stams stammering
Related forms
stammerer, noun
stammeringly, adverb
unstammering, adjective
unstammeringly, adverb
Can be confused
stammer, stutter (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. pause, hesitate, falter. Stammer, stutter mean to speak with some form of difficulty. Stammer, the general term, suggests a speech difficulty that results in broken or inarticulate sounds and sometimes in complete stoppage of speech; it may be temporary, caused by sudden excitement, confusion, embarrassment, or other emotion, or it may be so deep-seated as to require special treatment for its correction. Stutter, the parallel term preferred in technical usage, designates a broad range of defects that produce spasmodic interruptions of the speech rhythm, repetitions, or prolongations of sounds or syllables: The child's stutter was no mere stammer of embarrassment. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for stammer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the wish to laugh had returned, and made her stammer, interrupting her at each word.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • He backed, and began to stammer an apology; but she did not wait to hear a word of it.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • He was alone, beside himself, with livid face and scarce able to stammer.

    Fruitfulness Emile Zola
  • The best he could do was to stammer a hope that she would not be obliged to sell the house.

    Galusha the Magnificent Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Her "guess" was so close to the truth that I could only stammer and hesitate.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine Joseph C. Lincoln
  • "Really, Mrs. Vibert, I am overwhelmed," I managed to stammer.

    Melomaniacs James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for stammer


to speak or say (something) in a hesitant way, esp as a result of a speech disorder or through fear, stress, etc
a speech disorder characterized by involuntary repetitions and hesitations
Derived Forms
stammerer, noun
stammering, noun, adjective
stammeringly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English stamerian; related to Old Saxon stamarōn, Old High German stamm
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 stammer

Old English stamerian, from West Germanic *stamrojan (cf. Old Norse stammr, Old High German stam, Gothic stamms "stammering," Middle Dutch stameren, German stammeln "to stammer," Old Frisian and German stumm "dumb"), from PIE root *stam-, *stum- "check, impede" (see stem (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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stammer in Medicine

stammer stam·mer (stām'ər)
A speech disorder characterized by hesitation and repetition of sounds, or by mispronunciation or transposition of certain consonants, especially l, r, and s. v. stam·mered, stam·mer·ing, stam·mers
To speak with a stammer.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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