shat·​ter | \ˈsha-tər \
shattered; shattering; shatters

Definition of shatter 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to drop or be dispersed

2a : to break at once into pieces

b : to damage badly : ruin

3 : to cause the disruption or annihilation of : demolish

intransitive verb

1 : to break apart : disintegrate

2 : to drop off parts (such as leaves, petals, or fruit)



Definition of shatter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : fragment, shred usually used in plural the broken vase lay in shatters

2 : an act of shattering : the state of being shattered

3 : a result of shattering : shower

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Other Words from shatter


shatteringly \ˈsha-​tə-​riŋ-​lē \ adverb

Examples of shatter in a Sentence


The rock shattered the window. His dreams were shattered by their rejection. The end of his marriage shattered him emotionally.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Some Boca players were injured in their bus a few blocks from River’s Monumental Stadium when rocks and pieces of wood thrown by River supporters shattered the windows. Debora Rey, The Seattle Times, "Copa Libertadores final: A sign of Argentina’s decadence," 5 Dec. 2018 At some point in the confrontation, the Boca players were also exposed to tear gas through the bus’s shattered windows. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "South America’s Soccer Final Postponed for Second Time," 25 Nov. 2018 But alas, their dreams were shattered like the mirrored texture on Taylor's dress. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Taylor Swift Just Walked The 2018 AMAs Red Carpet Without Boyfriend Joe Alwyn," 9 Oct. 2018 My image of the Connecticut shoreline as a 332-mile-long gated community was shattered. Peter Marteka,, "A Visit To Stonington's Seashore And Preserve Where Expansive Views And Connecticut History Are Showcased," 6 July 2018 Bobby’s arm may be shattered, but his heart is full. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Bobby and Nancy Leonard's love story helped save the Indiana Pacers," 27 June 2018 The three-tiered fountain had been shattered into pieces. Jessica Schmidt,, "Walton mayor offering reward after vandals destroy community fountain," 18 June 2018 The boys’ parents were shattered and remain embittered over the accident, especially since Diana Cowper avoided jail and any significant punishment. Erik Spanberg, The Christian Science Monitor, "'The Word Is Murder' is Anthony Horowitz at his ambitious best," 15 June 2018 Both women, who were 19 and 20 when their father first went to jail, were shattered by the verdict and unprepared for the public eye. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "How The Staircase Defined True Crime Series," 11 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Each of these, individually, shatters longstanding norms about how the president is supposed to talk and think about the Department of Justice. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "We aren’t alarmed enough about Jeff Sessions’s firing," 8 Nov. 2018 Viewers are meant to feel it viscerally every time a nose shatters or a rib cracks. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "Daredevil’s ‘suffering makes a man’ trope is common, familiar, and bad for everyone," 24 Oct. 2018 But, when a revelation unearths Martin’s ultimate transgressions, his American Dream shatters. Kt Hawbaker,, "Interrobang, now in residence at Rivendell Theatre, announces 2018-19 season," 29 June 2018 Life stories have coherence, Schmelzer writes, and trauma shatters that coherence. Judith Newman, New York Times, "Adversity Needn’t Thwart or Define You. Here’s How to Cope.," 6 July 2018 When Windows breaks, the whole world hears the shatter. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "The Elite Microsoft Hacker Team That Keeps Windows PCs Safe," 10 June 2018 Athena Arvanitis, the district’s director of student life, told school board members Monday crews will also install the shatter resistant film and window shades. Kathy Routliffe,, "Summer work at New Trier High to include upgrades of video surveillance, security training," 12 June 2018 When the bottle hits the wall, the bottle shatters spreading the kinetic energy out across a wide area. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "School shootings: This cannon fires unbelievable ammo to blast through walls and help rescue victims," 31 May 2018 With a shatter, the sweet, crunchy crust yielded to a mouthful of perfectly seasoned, perfectly sauced spaghetti. New York Times, "The Crispy Leftovers as the Main Course," 22 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shatter.' 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 shatter


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


circa 1640, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shatter


Middle English schateren — more at scatter

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Statistics for shatter

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shatter

The first known use of shatter was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for shatter



English Language Learners Definition of shatter

: to break suddenly into many small pieces

: to damage (something) very badly


shat·​ter | \ˈsha-tər \
shattered; shattering

Kids Definition of shatter

1 : to break or fall to pieces The window shattered.

2 : to destroy or damage badly The news shattered our hopes.

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More from Merriam-Webster on shatter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shatter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shatter

Spanish Central: Translation of shatter

Nglish: Translation of shatter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shatter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shatter

What made you want to look up shatter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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