verb (used without object)

to utter words indistinctly or in a low tone, often as if talking to oneself; murmur.
to complain murmuringly; grumble.
to make a low, rumbling sound.

verb (used with object)

to utter indistinctly or in a low tone: to mutter complaints.


the act or utterance of a person who mutters.

Origin of mutter

1325–75; Middle English moteren, perhaps frequentative of moot1 (Old English mōtian to speak); see -er6
Related formsmut·ter·er, nounmut·ter·ing·ly, adverbun·mut·tered, adjectiveun·mut·ter·ing, adjectiveun·mut·ter·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for mutter

1. See murmur. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mutter

Contemporary Examples of mutter

Historical Examples of mutter

  • "No living aunt ever looked as you do now," Kitty will mutter, shaking her head.

  • I heard him mutter as he neared the boat-house where Fin and I were stowing cargo.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • I was near enough to hear him mutter: "How the devil comes this here?"

  • Gervaise entered, greatly embarrassed, not even daring to mutter an excuse.


    Emile Zola

  • A shadow flitted in front of it, and he stopped to chuckle evilly and mutter.

    Louisiana Lou

    William West Winter

British Dictionary definitions for mutter



to utter (something) in a low and indistinct tone
(intr) to grumble or complain
(intr) to make a low continuous murmuring sound


a muttered sound or complaint
Derived Formsmutterer, nounmuttering, noun, adjectivemutteringly, adverb

Word Origin for mutter

C14 moteren; related to Norwegian (dialect) mutra, Old High German mutilōn; compare Old English mōtian to speak



Anne-Sophie. born 1963, German violinist
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 mutter

early 14c., moteren "to mumble," from a common PIE imitative *mut- "to grunt, mutter" (cf. Old Norse muðla "to murmur," Latin muttire "to mutter," Old High German mutilon "to murmur, mutter; to drizzle"), with frequentative suffix -er. Related: Muttered; muttering.


1630s, from mutter (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper