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

Criminal damage Someone threw a rock and shattered the front window of a home in the 600 block of North Marion Street between 10 a.m. June 3 and 2:45 p.m. June 4. Pioneer Press Staff,, "Police: Oak Park resident robbed of cellphone, wallet while walking on Randolph Street," 7 June 2019 The wrench shattered the woman’s window, and the man drove off, deputies said. Jared Gilmour, sacbee, "Startling video catches California road rage driver flinging wrench, cops say," 4 June 2019 At least 10 other people were injured seriously and more than 30 less seriously following the explosion, which spat fire out into a narrow street, shattering nearby windows. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "French Antigovernment Protesters March for Ninth Straight Weekend," 12 Jan. 2019 By shattering harmful expectations of South African design, Magugu is providing a new aesthetic context for the modern-day Rainbow Nation. Cassidy George, Vogue, "Meet Thebe Magugu, the Designer at the Heart of South Africa’s Cultural Renaissance," 20 May 2019 Michele’s vision is empowering in its inclusivity—his models are diverse, and his ideas consistently shatter molds. Alexander Fury; Fashion Editor: Joanna Hillman, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Art of Beauty," 6 May 2019 The dust showed that Itokawa is part of what remains from a much larger object shattered by a previous collision—but nobody had thought to check it for traces of water. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What Finding Water on an Ancient Asteroid Means for Life on Earth," 2 May 2019 This moment in particular marks a huge win for women’s empowerment, shattering outdated standards of beauty and identity in the industry. Rebecca Norris, Allure, "Halima Aden Makes History as the First Sports Illustrated Model to Wear a Burkini," 29 Apr. 2019 Although some roads were shown completely impassible, with large swaths of asphalt shattered like ice, no bridges or other major pieces of infrastructure were destroyed. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Alaska’s earthquake didn’t kill anyone—here’s why," 3 Dec. 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

10 Jun 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).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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