• synonyms


verb (used with object)
  1. to stifle or suffocate, as by smoke or other means of preventing free breathing.
  2. to extinguish or deaden (fire, coals, etc.) by covering so as to exclude air.
  3. to cover closely or thickly; envelop: to smother a steak with mushrooms.
  4. to suppress or repress: to smother feelings.
  5. Cookery. to steam (food) slowly in a heavy, tightly closed vessel with a minimum of liquid: smothered chicken and onions.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to become stifled or suffocated; be prevented from breathing.
  2. to be stifled; be suppressed or concealed.
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  1. dense, stifling smoke.
  2. a smoking or smoldering state, as of burning matter.
  3. dust, fog, spray, etc., in a dense or enveloping cloud.
  4. an overspreading profusion of anything: a smother of papers.
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Origin of smother

1125–75; (noun) Middle English smorther dense smoke; akin to Old English smorian to suffocate; (v.) Middle English smo(r)theren, derivative of the noun
Related formssmoth·er·a·ble, adjectivehalf-smoth·ered, adjectiveun·smoth·er·a·ble, adjectiveun·smoth·ered, adjectiveun·smoth·er·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for half-smothered

Historical Examples of half-smothered

  • A half-smothered cry reached him from somewhere in the direction of the barn.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Then there came a half-suppressed, half-smothered cry, a groan, and all was still.


    Elliott O'Donnell

  • There was a half-smothered exclamation of dismay from Marjorie.

  • They were half-smothered, lying on their faces as they were.

  • It is all crumbling to pieces and is half-smothered with creepers and grass.

British Dictionary definitions for half-smothered


  1. to suffocate or stifle by cutting off or being cut off from the air
  2. (tr) to surround (with) or envelop (in)he smothered her with love
  3. (tr) to extinguish (a fire) by covering so as to cut it off from the air
  4. to be or cause to be suppressed or stifledsmother a giggle
  5. (tr) to cook or serve (food) thickly covered with sauce, etc
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  1. anything, such as a cloud of smoke, that stifles
  2. a profusion or turmoil
  3. archaic a state of smouldering or a smouldering fire
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Derived Formssmothery, adjective

Word Origin for smother

Old English smorian to suffocate; related to Middle Low German smōren
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 half-smothered



c.1200, "to suffocate with smoke," from smother (n.), earlier smorthre "dense, suffocating smoke" (late 12c.), from stem of Old English smorian "to suffocate, choke, strangle, stifle," cognate with Middle Dutch smoren, German schmoren; possibly connected to smolder. Meaning "to kill by suffocation in any manner" is from 1540s; sense of "to extinguish a fire" is from 1590s. Sense of "stifle, repress" is first recorded 1570s; meaning "to cover thickly (with some substance)" is from 1590s. Related: Smothered; smothering.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper