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verb (used with object)
  1. to break (something) into pieces, as by a blow.
  2. to damage, as by breaking or crushing: ships shattered by storms.
  3. to impair or destroy (health, nerves, etc.): The incident shattered his composure.
  4. to weaken, destroy, or refute (ideas, opinions, etc.): He wanted to shatter her illusions.
verb (used without object)
  1. to be broken into fragments or become weak or insubstantial.
  1. Usually shatters. fragments made by shattering.

Origin of shatter

1300–50; Middle English schateren < ?; cf. scatter
Related formsshat·ter·er, nounshat·ter·ing·ly, adverbnon·shat·ter, nounnon·shat·ter·ing, adjectiveun·shat·tered, adjective

Synonyms for shatter

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Synonym study

1. See break. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shattering

Contemporary Examples of shattering

Historical Examples of shattering

British Dictionary definitions for shattering


  1. to break or be broken into many small pieces
  2. (tr) to impair or destroyhis nerves were shattered by the torture
  3. (tr) to dumbfound or thoroughly upsetshe was shattered by the news
  4. (tr) informal to cause to be tired out or exhausted
  5. an obsolete word for scatter
  1. (usually plural) obsolete, or dialect a fragment
Derived Formsshatterer, nounshattering, adjectiveshatteringly, adverb

Word Origin for shatter

C12: perhaps obscurely related to scatter
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 shattering

1560s, present participle adjective from shatter (v.). Related: Shatteringly.



early 14c., transitive, probably a variant of Middle English scateren (see scatter (v.)). Cf. Old Dutch schetteren Low German schateren. Formations such as scatter-brained had parallel forms in shatter-brained, etc. Intransitive sense from 1560s. Related: Shattered; shattering. Carlyle (1841) used shatterment. Shatters "fragments" is from 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper