See more synonyms for sputter on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to make explosive popping or sizzling sounds.
  2. to emit particles, sparks, etc., forcibly or explosively, especially accompanied by sputtering sounds.
  3. to eject particles of saliva, food, etc., from the mouth in a light spray, as when speaking angrily or excitedly.
  4. to utter or spit out words or sounds explosively or incoherently, as when angry or flustered.
verb (used with object)
  1. to emit (anything) forcibly and in small particles, as if by spitting: The fire sputtered cinders.
  2. to eject (saliva, food, etc.) in small particles explosively and involuntarily, as in excitement.
  3. to utter explosively and incoherently.
  1. the act or sound of sputtering.
  2. explosive, incoherent utterance.
  3. matter ejected in sputtering.

Origin of sputter

1590–1600; sput- (variant of spout) + -er6; cognate with Dutch sputteren
Related formssput·ter·er, nounsput·ter·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for sputter

falter, stammer, stutter, stumble, spit, splutter

Examples from the Web for sputter

Contemporary Examples of sputter

Historical Examples of sputter

  • Debby marching down the hill, continued to sputter about the lost weeklies.

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • I asked him if he filled his pies with a trowel and you ought to have heard him sputter.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • The helicopter man pulled the ignition-cord and a rocket began to sputter.


    Murray Leinster

  • Then all they'll do is buzz and sputter until the feedback is broken with the key.

    Meeting of the Board

    Alan Edward Nourse

  • He switched on the electric current, and the apparatus began to sputter.

    The Silent Bullet

    Arthur B. Reeve

British Dictionary definitions for sputter


  1. another word for splutter (def. 1), splutter (def. 2), splutter (def. 3)
  2. physics
    1. to undergo or cause to undergo a process in which atoms of a solid are removed from its surface by the impact of high-energy ions, as in a discharge tube
    2. to coat (a film of a metal) onto (a solid surface) by using this process
  1. the process or noise of sputtering
  2. incoherent stammering speech
  3. something that is ejected while sputtering
Derived Formssputterer, noun

Word Origin for sputter

C16: from Dutch sputteren, of imitative origin
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 sputter

1590s, "to spit with explosive sounds," cognate with Dutch sputteren, West Frisian sputterje (see spout). Related: Sputtered; sputtering. The noun is attested from 1670s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper