verb (used with object)

to speak (a language, words, etc.) with superficial knowledge or understanding.
to dabble in.


slight or superficial knowledge; smattering.

Origin of smatter

1300–50; Middle English; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Danish, Norwegian smadre to splash, swash, Swedish smattra to clatter, rattle; compare Middle Low German smetern to chatter Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for smatter

Historical Examples of smatter

  • I must have let out a very excited gasp, 'cause Poetry said, "'Smatter, Bill?"

  • Mrs. Smatter had raised her suspicions about the adulteration of all the food on the table.


    Miriam Coles Harris

  • And again, not only is Polynesian easy to smatter, but interpreters abound.

    In the South Seas

    Robert Louis Stevenson

  • The apter he is to smatter, the slower he is in making any advance in his pretences.

  • The monotonies of Mrs. Smatter and the asperities of Miss Varian for once roused little opposition.


    Miriam Coles Harris

British Dictionary definitions for smatter



a smattering


(intr) rare to prattle
(tr) archaic to dabble in
Derived Formssmatterer, noun

Word Origin for smatter

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

early 15c., "talk idly, chatter; talk ignorantly or superficially," of uncertain origin, perhaps imitative. Similar forms are found in Middle High German smetern "to chatter" and Swedish smattra "to patter, rattle," and cf. Danish snaddre "chatter, jabber," Dutch snateren, German schnattern "cackle, chatter, prattle." Related: Smattered; smattering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper