[ stam-er ]
/ ˈstæm ər /
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See synonyms for: stammer / stammered / stammering on Thesaurus.com

Definition of stammer

verb (used without object)
to speak with involuntary breaks and pauses, or with spasmodic repetitions of syllables or sounds.
verb (used with object)
to say with a stammer (often followed by out).
a stammering mode of utterance.
a stammered utterance.
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Origin of stammer

First recorded before 1000; Middle English verb stammeren, Old English stamerian (cognate with German stammern ), equivalent to stam “stammering” + -erian -er6; akin to Old Norse stamma “to stammer,” Gothic stams “stammering”

synonym study for stammer

1. Stammer, stutter mean to speak with some form of difficulty. Stammer, the general term, suggests a speech disfluency that results in broken or inarticulate sounds and sometimes in complete stoppage of speech; it may be temporary, caused by sudden excitement, confusion, embarrassment, or other emotion, or it may be persistent and require speech therapy for its correction. Stutter, the parallel term preferred in technical usage, designates a broad range of speech production disturbances that produce spasmodic interruptions of the speech rhythm, repetitions, or prolongations of sounds or syllables: The child's stutter was no mere stammer of embarrassment.


stam·mer·er, nounstam·mer·ing·ly, adverbun·stam·mer·ing, adjectiveun·stam·mer·ing·ly, adverb


stammer , stutter (see synonym study at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does stammer mean?

To stammer is to speak with involuntary breaks or pauses or involuntarily repeated words or parts of words. In text, it is often represented with hyphens, as in s-s-s-safe to represent a struggle to pronounce the s– sound.

A stammer is a way of speaking with a stammer, as in Kim spoke with a stammer, but it didn’t define him.

To stammer is also to say something with a stammer, as in Lawrence was so nervous during his presentation that he stammered out the first part of his speech.

Stutter is a synonym of stammer and is preferred in technical usage.

Example: Everytime we have to present to the board, I get so nervous that I start to stammer.

Where does stammer come from?

The first records of the term stammer come from before the year 1000. It comes from the Old English stamerian.

When you’re nervous, it’s natural to stammer a bit. Usually, as you calm down and speak for a few minutes, your speech will smooth out. Practicing a speech before giving it to an audience can help you feel less nervous and stammer less or not at all.

Beyond occasional stammering due to nervousness, stammering often results from a speech disorder. A person might be born with a condition or later suffer brain trauma from disease or injury, which can cause light to intrusive stammering. This type of stammering can produce a frustrated feeling over an inability to produce the proper syllable. It can be eased with speech therapy and speech exercises.

Sometimes listeners are impatient with a person who is stammering. This can make them more nervous. Patiently waiting for someone to finish their statement is the best way to support someone who is struggling to speak.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to stammer?

  • stammerer (noun)
  • stammeringly (adverb)
  • unstammering (adjective)
  • unstammeringly (adverb)

What are some synonyms for stammer?

What are some words that often get used in discussing stammer?

How is stammer used in real life?

Stammering can happen occasionally, such as when you’re nervous, or regularly, as with a speech disorder.


Try using stammer!

True or False?

Only someone with a speech disorder stammers.

How to use stammer in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for stammer

/ (ˈstæmə) /

to speak or say (something) in a hesitant way, esp as a result of a speech disorder or through fear, stress, etc
a speech disorder characterized by involuntary repetitions and hesitations

Derived forms of stammer

stammerer, nounstammering, noun, adjectivestammeringly, adverb

Word Origin for stammer

Old English stamerian; related to Old Saxon stamarōn, Old High German stamm
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