[ smat-er ]
See synonyms for: smattersmatteredsmatteringsmatters on

verb (used with object)
  1. to speak (a language, words, etc.) with superficial knowledge or understanding.

  2. to dabble in.

  1. a slight or superficial knowledge; smattering: She gets by with only a smatter of musical knowledge.

  2. a small amount or number; smattering: a smatter of applause; smatters of nervous laughter.

Origin of smatter

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English; further origin uncertain; perhaps from Scandinavian; Danish, Norwegian smadre “to splash, smash (to pieces),” Swedish smattra “to clatter, rattle” (Middle Low German smetern “to chatter”), but the semantic development is unclear

Words Nearby smatter Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use smatter in a sentence

  • These would repeat the same foreign words or phrases; "to smatter French" being "meritorious."

  • Her only education was the continual smatter which comes from many cities superficially glided.

    Melomaniacs | James Huneker
  • Mrs. smatter had raised her suspicions about the adulteration of all the food on the table.

    Missy | Miriam Coles Harris
  • And again, not only is Polynesian easy to smatter, but interpreters abound.

    In the South Seas | Robert Louis Stevenson
  • It blew and stormed and stormed, and the thin, nasal voice of "Rev. smatter" was utterly lost in the wind.

    The Flaming Jewel | Robert W. Chambers

British Dictionary definitions for smatter


/ (ˈsmætə) /

  1. a smattering

  1. (intr) rare to prattle

  2. (tr) archaic to dabble in

Origin of smatter

C14 (in the sense: to prattle): of uncertain origin; compare Middle High German smetern to gossip

Derived forms of smatter

  • smatterer, noun

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