shat·​ter | \ ˈsha-tər How to pronounce shatter (audio) \
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 How to pronounce shatteringly (audio) \ 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

The three $135 million bids shattered the previous record for the largest offshore wind sale, when Statoil paid $42 million for the rights to develop off the coast of New York in 2016. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Just Finalized The Largest Offshore Wind Sale in the Nation's History," 17 Dec. 2018 But the tax increase and recession shattered the Reagan coalition, as Ross Perot entered the 1992 race, paving the way for Bill Clinton to win. WSJ, "George Herbert Walker Bush," 1 Dec. 2018 But Busy Phillips just shattered all of that, breaking our crushes into teeny, tiny pieces. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Noah Centineo Apparently Ghosted Busy Phillips's Friend," 9 Nov. 2018 Now, though, the island has floated back to its starting point, and has shattered into multiple pieces, each of which still float in the air. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "A week away from Fortnite feels like forever," 27 Oct. 2018 Volcanic ash is not created from anything burning but rather from lava and rock that is shattered into tiny pieces less than two millimeters across. Author: Erik Klemetti, Anchorage Daily News, "Five myths about volcanoes," 28 May 2018 Mazina is a flavorful blend of corn and flour that helped make the shell crispy until the last bite and kept it from shattering into a million pieces. Michele Parente,, "It's taco-mania at Sycuan in May," 3 May 2018 Seven years of fighting have shattered Syria into a series of overlapping conflicts among a kaleidoscope of combatants and international powers seeking to advance their interests. Ben Hubbard,, "As Trump seeks way out of Syria, gas attack pulls him back in," 9 Apr. 2018 The uprising shattered Libya into a collection of fiefs ruled by militias. The Economist, "War-torn Libya plans an election," 5 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Without the bread slices smothering the shatter and snap of bacon and lettuce, there’s a lot more crunch. Melissa Clark, The Seattle Times, "The BLT gets a taco makeover," 28 Aug. 2018 She is driven enough to show up at work with glass in her hair after a drive-by shooting shatters her car window and driven enough to lie when her technology can’t match her vision. Laura Vanderkam, WSJ, "What to Give: Business Books," 15 Nov. 2018 The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. Michael Sebastian, Town & Country, "Here's the Full Transcript of Obama's Farewell Address," 11 Jan. 2017 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

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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Learn More about shatter

Statistics for shatter

Last Updated

18 Mar 2019

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 How to pronounce shatter (audio) \
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 shady place in a garden or forest

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