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

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 If Europe keeps the pressure on commodities in its economic war with Russia, then the answer is – as long as Europe and Russia are sanctioning each other to smithereens. Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, 22 May 2022 Fluorescent hues poked out from underneath the weeds: shotgun shells, blown to smithereens. Krista Karlson, Outside Online, 21 Nov. 2020 The obvious thing to do would be to simply blow the AI to smithereens. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 5 May 2022 A few weeks ago, the mall was shelled to smithereens. New York Times, 2 May 2022 To this lover of raw bivalves and tart heat, the Scotch-bonnet mignonette tasted like a far superior alternative to my usual D.I.Y. treatment—lemons squeezed to smithereens and a soup of Tabasco. The New Yorker, 11 Mar. 2022 The bottom line is that the Turkish drones continue to star in videos shared across Twitter and other social media platforms that feature them blowing Russian vehicles to smithereens. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, 14 Mar. 2022 Because a flag towering over an assortment of smithereens would be too sorry a sight even for us. Washington Post, 3 Feb. 2022 In the classic three little pigs fable, the homes made of straw and wood are blown to smithereens by the hungry wolf much to the misfortune of the pigs who worked hard to build them. Jennifer Castenson, Forbes, 4 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of smithereens

1795, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for smithereens

perhaps from Irish smidiríní

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The first known use of smithereens was in 1795

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Cite this Entry

“Smithereens.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for smithereens


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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