verb (used without object)
  1. to busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner: to putter in the garden.
  2. to move or go in a specified manner with ineffective action or little energy or purpose: to putter about the house on a rainy day.
  3. to move or go slowly or aimlessly; loiter.
  1. puttering or ineffective action; dawdling.
Verb Phrases
  1. putter away, to spend or fill in a random, inconsequential, or unproductive way; fritter away; waste: We puttered the morning away.
Also especially British, potter.

Origin of putter

First recorded in 1875–80; variant of potter2
Related formsput·ter·er, nounput·ter·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for puttered

loiter, niggle, poke, mess, doodle, puddle, tinker, fiddle, fritter, potter

Examples from the Web for puttered

Historical Examples of puttered

  • Susan puttered about for a few minutes longer, then crossed to the reception room, intending to go up-stairs.

  • Joe returned to the house, and puttered around until supper was ready.

  • Mrs. Lear did not follow them upstairs immediately, but puttered about the kitchen preparing herself a midnight snack.

  • Nurse Nannie puttered about the room for some time, picking up things, and laying out the girls' clothes for the next day.

    Marjorie at Seacote

    Carolyn Wells

  • Instead of the usual two-hour run to Southampton, we puttered along and did not arrive until after one.

British Dictionary definitions for puttered


noun golf
  1. a club for putting, usually having a solid metal head
  2. a golfer who putts


  1. (intr; often foll by about or around) to busy oneself in a desultory though agreeable manner
  2. (intr; often foll by along or about) to move with little energy or directionto putter about town
  3. (tr usually foll by away) to waste (time)
  1. the act of puttering
Equivalent term (in Britain and certain other countries): potter

Word Origin for putter

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


  1. a person who putsthe putter of a question
  2. a person who puts the shot
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 puttered



"keep busy in a rather useless way," 1841, originally among farmers, alteration of potter (v.). Related: Puttered; puttering.



late 14c., "beast that pushes with the head," agent noun from put (v.). As a type of golf club used in putting, from 1743; see putt (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper