plural noun
smith·​er·​eens | \ ˌsmi-t͟hə-ˈrēnz How to pronounce smithereens (audio) \

Definition of smithereens

: small broken pieces : fragments, bits the vase was in smithereens on the floor usually used in phrases like blow to smithereens or smash to smithereens Roughly once a second, a star somewhere in the universe explodes. Some of these stars are blown to smithereens, strewing ashes through space.— Ron CowenWithin less than a decade, foreign invaders with horses, gunpowder, and lethal diseases had smashed their empire to smithereens.— Niall FergusonHe felt a plunk on the back of his neck as the snowball smashed to smithereens just above his coat collar.— Mordecai RichlerDon't tell that guy blasting rampaging zombies to smithereens in his favorite video game that he's getting lessons in efficient decision making.— Bruce Bower

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Did You Know?

Despite its American sound and its common use by the fiery animated cartoon character Yosemite Sam, smithereens did not originate in American slang. Although no one is entirely positive about its precise origins, scholars think that smithereens likely developed from the Irish word smidiríní, which means "little bits." That Irish word is the diminutive of smiodar, meaning "fragment." According to print evidence, the plural form smithereens first appears in English in the late 18th century; use of singular smithereen then follows.

Examples of smithereens in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Those most terrible weapons have been hovering around Verdansk since early on in its lifespan, spurring on speculation that the developer would be blowing the map to smithereens. Dave Thier, Forbes, "What Time And Where To Watch ‘Call Of Duty: Warzone’s Big Nuke Event," 19 Apr. 2021 Though November 3 is still days away, US citizens have already begun casting their ballots through early voting and mail-in voting, smashing voting records to smithereens in the process. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Selena Gomez Wore A $65 Tank Top and Leggings to Cast Her Ballot In the 2020 Election," 23 Oct. 2020 No bigger than a lapdog, these marsupials are famous for their ferocity and powerful jaws, which can reduce large carcasses to smithereens in minutes. Jason Bittel, National Geographic, "Tasmanian devils return to mainland Australia for first time in 3,000 years," 5 Oct. 2020 Pretty much every time the Dak Hate Hive finds something to nitpick about his game, the Cowboys quarterback smashes it to smithereens. Dallas News, "Cowboys QB Dak Prescott squashed haters’ nitpicking of his game yet again," 22 Sep. 2020 These are usually cheap but prices increase depending on their cosmetic appeal or effectiveness in blasting an opponent to smithereens. The Economist, "Schumpeter Tencent has used stealth to become a gaming superpower," 13 June 2020 There’s Billiards, Bowling and even a few wacky minigames based on blowing your opponent to smithereens in a friendly toy tank competition. Brittany Vincent, CNN Underscored, "Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics offers a perfectly punchy set of minigames," 11 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'smithereens.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of smithereens

1795, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for smithereens

perhaps from Irish smidiríní

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Time Traveler for smithereens

Time Traveler

The first known use of smithereens was in 1795

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Last Updated

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Smithereens.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for smithereens



English Language Learners Definition of smithereens

informal : small broken pieces : tiny bits


noun plural
smith·​er·​eens | \ ˌsmi-t͟hə-ˈrēnz How to pronounce smithereens (audio) \

Kids Definition of smithereens

: small broken pieces The target was blown to smithereens.

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