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

Someone shattered the driver’s side window of a vehicle parked in the 1700 block of Riverside Drive on July 4, police said. Alexandra Kukulka,, "Blotter: 16-year-old without valid license left accident scene in Glenview," 13 July 2018 After a rock shattered the home’s window, the Cobbs moved to Terra Linda in San Rafael, and later to San Francisco, where the family remained. Carolyn Said,, "‘Black Rage’ co-author Dr. Price Cobbs dies at 89," 10 July 2018 After all, our planet has been hit by some pretty big space rocks, including one that blew up over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, shattering windows and injuring more than 1,200 people. NBC News, "Stopping 'Armageddon': This former astronaut is on a mission to save Earth from deadly asteroids," 10 July 2018 The blast, initially reported as a gas explosion, shattered windows in nearby homes, KYW-TV reported. Washington Post, "Heat and high winds stoke wildfires in California, other Western states," 8 July 2018 The blast initially reported as a gas explosion shattered windows in nearby homes, KYW-TV reported. Fox News, "Prosecutor: 2 dead in house blast, no foul play suspected," 7 July 2018 Image Friday the 13th is the patron day of black cat crossings, devious witches, shattered mirrors, suspicious ladders — and cheap tattoos. Zoe Greenberg, New York Times, "Friday the 13th, a ‘Tattoo Holiday’," 13 July 2018 As a result, Wesley Williams has created a community of women of color who are shattering glass ceilings and aspiring to make their presence the norm in public relations, marketing, and other communications fields. NBC News, "Be proactive and step out of your comfort zone:," 13 July 2018 There have been 23 goals scored in the 90th minute and second-half stoppage time so far in this World Cup, shattering the previous high of 14, set four years ago in Brazil. Steven Goff, Houston Chronicle, "FIFA president: World Cup could expand to 48 teams in 2022, ahead of schedule," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 On the fourth time around, the GPS falls off, shatters, and gets hit by a car. Lauren Cook, The Cut, "Never Take a Romantic Vacation for Your Second Date," 15 May 2018 The airbag will also deploy when the sunroof is closed, providing extra protection against a potential shatter. Cherise Threewitt,, "Sunroofs and safety: Reports of shattering glass on the rise," 22 Feb. 2018 Rather, the golden crisp-skinned poultry ($8.70/4-pc. dinner) shatters to the bite and is more reminiscent of the supper club or homestyle Sunday dinner fried chicken. Michael Nagrant, RedEye Chicago, "A guide to eating your way through Chicago's South Side," 6 July 2017

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

14 Oct 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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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).


one that holds something together

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