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  1. a small, thin, sharp piece of wood, bone, or the like, split or broken off from the main body.
  2. splinter group.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to split or break into splinters.
  2. to break off (something) in splinters.
  3. to split or break (a larger group) into separate factions or independent groups.
  4. Obsolete. to secure or support by a splint or splints, as a broken limb.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to be split or broken into splinters.
  2. to break off in splinters.
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Origin of splinter

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle Dutch or Middle Low German; cf. splint
Related formssplin·ter·less, adjectivesplin·ter·y, adjectiveun·splin·tered, adjective

Synonyms for splinter

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for splinter

sliver, rive, smash, disintegrate, shatter, split, fracture, fragment, chip, needle, flake, wood, bit, paring, shaving, shiver, burst, pash

Examples from the Web for splinter

Contemporary Examples of splinter

Historical Examples of splinter

British Dictionary definitions for splinter


  1. a very small sharp piece of wood, glass, metal, etc, characteristically long and thin, broken off from a whole
  2. a metal fragment, from the container of a shell, bomb, etc, thrown out during an explosion
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  1. to reduce or be reduced to sharp fragments; shatter
  2. to break or be broken off in small sharp fragments
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Word Origin for splinter

C14: from Middle Dutch splinter; see splint
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 splinter


late 14c., from Middle Dutch splinter, splenter "a splinter," related to splinte (see splint). The adjective (as in splinter party) is first recorded 1935, from the noun.

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1580s, from splinter (n.). Figurative sense from c.1600. Related: Splintered; splintering.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper