[ smuhth-er ]
See synonyms for smother on
verb (used with object)
  1. to stifle or suffocate, as by smoke or other means of preventing free breathing.

  2. to extinguish or deaden (fire, coals, etc.) by covering so as to exclude air.

  1. to cover closely or thickly; envelop: to smother a steak with mushrooms.

  2. to suppress or repress: to smother feelings.

  3. Cooking. to steam (food) slowly in a heavy, tightly closed vessel with a minimum of liquid: smothered chicken and onions.

verb (used without object)
  1. to become stifled or suffocated; be prevented from breathing.

  2. to be stifled; be suppressed or concealed.

  1. dense, stifling smoke.

  2. a smoking or smoldering state, as of burning matter.

  1. dust, fog, spray, etc., in a dense or enveloping cloud.

  2. an overspreading profusion of anything: a smother of papers.

Origin of smother

1125–75; (noun) Middle English smorther dense smoke; akin to Old English smorian to suffocate; (v.) Middle English smo(r)theren, derivative of the noun

Other words from smother

  • smoth·er·a·ble, adjective
  • half-smothered, adjective
  • un·smoth·er·a·ble, adjective
  • un·smoth·ered, adjective
  • un·smoth·er·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use smother in a sentence

  • With a tremendous effort, he controlled himself and smothered the rising fires that struggled towards speech and action.

    The Wave | Algernon Blackwood
  • She therefore yielded enchantingly when he enveloped her, smothered her, stormed her lips, and even pulled her hair.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • It is like the eating of a smothered fire into rotten timber in that it is noiseless and without haste.

  • His voice broke from the smothered conference tone and the school heard it and tittered.

  • The slush fairly smothered or blanketed the shell but I was wetted through and was stung up properly with small gravel.

British Dictionary definitions for smother


/ (ˈsmʌðə) /

  1. to suffocate or stifle by cutting off or being cut off from the air

  2. (tr) to surround (with) or envelop (in): he smothered her with love

  1. (tr) to extinguish (a fire) by covering so as to cut it off from the air

  2. to be or cause to be suppressed or stifled: smother a giggle

  3. (tr) to cook or serve (food) thickly covered with sauce, etc

  1. anything, such as a cloud of smoke, that stifles

  2. a profusion or turmoil

  1. archaic a state of smouldering or a smouldering fire

Origin of smother

Old English smorian to suffocate; related to Middle Low German smōren

Derived forms of smother

  • smothery, adjective

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