verb (used without object), noun Chiefly British.

Origin of potter

1520–30; frequentative of obsolete, dial. pote to push, poke, Middle English poten, Old English potian to push, thrust. See put, -er6
Related formspot·ter·er, nounpot·ter·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pottering

Historical Examples of pottering

British Dictionary definitions for pottering




a person who makes pottery



esp US and Canadian putter



(intr; often foll by about or around) to busy oneself in a desultory though agreeable manner
(intr; often foll by along or about) to move with little energy or directionto potter about town
(tr usually foll by away) to waste (time)to potter the day away


the act of pottering
Derived Formspotterer or esp US and Canadian putterer, noun

Word Origin for potter

C16 (in the sense: to poke repeatedly): from Old English potian to thrust; see put



(Helen) Beatrix. 1866–1943, British author and illustrator of children's animal stories, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)
Dennis (Christopher George). 1935–94, British dramatist. His TV plays include Pennies from Heaven (1978), The Singing Detective (1986), and Blackeyes (1989)
Paulus. 1625–54, Dutch painter, esp of animals
Stephen. 1900–70, British humorist and critic. Among his best-known works are Gamesmanship (1947) and One-Upmanship (1952), on the art of achieving superiority over others
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 pottering



"maker of pots" (they also sometimes doubled as bell-founders), late Old English pottere "potter," reinforced by Old French potier "potter," agent noun from root of pot (n.1). As a surname from late 12c. Potter's field (1520s) is Biblical, a ground where clay suitable for pottery was dug, later purchased by high priests of Jerusalem as a burying ground for strangers, criminals, and the poor (Matt. xxvii:7). An older Old English word for "potter" was crocwyrhta "crock-wright."



"occupy oneself in a trifling way," 1740, earlier "to poke again and again" (1520s), frequentative of obsolete verb poten "to push, poke," from Old English potian "to push" (see put (v.)). Sense of "occupy oneself in a trifling way" is first recorded 1740. Related: Pottered; pottering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper