smoth·​er | \ ˈsmə-t͟hər How to pronounce smother (audio) \
smothered; smothering\ ˈsmə-​t͟hə-​riŋ How to pronounce smother (audio) , ˈsmət͟h-​riŋ \

Definition of smother

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to kill by depriving of air
b : to suppress (a fire) by excluding oxygen
c : to overcome or discomfit through or as if through lack of air
2a : to suppress expression or knowledge of smothered his rage
b : to stop or prevent the growth or activity of smother a child with too much care also : overwhelm
c : to cover thickly : blanket snow smothered the trails
d : to overcome or vanquish quickly or decisively
e : to cause to smolder
3 : to overcome or kill with smoke or fumes
4 : to cook in a covered pan or pot with little liquid over low heat

intransitive verb

: to be overcome or killed through or as if through lack of air



Definition of smother (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : thick stifling smoke or smudge
b : a state of being stifled or suppressed
2 : a dense cloud (as of fog or dust)
3 : a confused multitude of things : welter

Other Words from smother


smothery \ ˈsmə-​t͟hə-​rē How to pronounce smother (audio) , ˈsmət͟h-​rē \ adjective

Synonyms for smother

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of smother in a Sentence

Verb He tried to smother her with a pillow. She smothered the fire with a blanket.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Other experts, however, have argued that vaccines should also be used to smother transmission and infection, which would support widespread and repeated boosting. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 18 Mar. 2022 Ebobisse nearly gave the Union a taste of their own medicine in the 73rd minute, getting on the end of a corner kick with an inside-of-the-foot shot, but Blake did well to smother it. Caitlin Murray, oregonlive, 31 May 2021 Hollingsworth's aunt and uncle allegedly told police that Hollingsworth gave birth silently in their bathroom, and had attempted to smother the child multiple times on the way to the hospital. People Staff,, 1 Apr. 2022 But a deal would also create a giant budget airline that could smother smaller companies, including two recent entrants, Breeze and Avelo. Niraj Chokshi, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2022 His crew opened fire on a nearby tree line as Cashe pulled the wounded from the wreckage, and others raced to smother the flames. Dan Lamothe, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Dec. 2021 If a kitchen fire does start, first try to smother the flames with a pot lid or cookie sheet. oregonlive, 2 Nov. 2021 Large quantities of dry chemicals are needed to smother lithium ion battery fires, which burn hotter and release noxious gases in the process. Aurora Almendral, Quartz, 21 Feb. 2022 Overnight, firefighters and rescuers — many holding flashlights and using blankets to smother small fires — searched through the ward. Fox News, 14 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun It's been jarring watching the Boston Celtics swarm and smother Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving en route to taking a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Nets. Rahat Huq, Chron, 25 Apr. 2022 The brew of exotics has unleashed noxious algae outbreaks that smother beaches in foot-deep goo that looks like creamed spinach and smells like the bowels of a porta potty., 30 Aug. 2021 Neither of these selections are for those who shy away from spice, however, the intense heat managed to highlight, rather than smother, the pork and the shrimp – an impressive feat, given the level of heat. Dahlia Ghabour, The Courier-Journal, 7 Aug. 2021 Prosecutors said Brinkman slit Taylor’s throat, strangled Kylie Pifer with a telephone cord and smother Taylor Pifer with a pillow in June 2017 at the women’s North Royalton home. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, 21 July 2021 All of these items promised to ward off, murder, smother or otherwise expunge my pest problem. Jessica Roy, Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2021 Spain then had Simon to thank for keeping them in the game, with the goalkeeper coming out quickly to smother substitute Domenico Berardi's effort. Matias Grez, CNN, 6 July 2021 Will years of oak leaves accumulating on the soil smother Asian jasmine and keep its roots from grabbing the ground? Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, 26 Mar. 2021 Mazda's all-wheel-drive system is quick to smother wheelspin, but a hard launch can elicit a tortured bark from the front tires before the system diverts torque rearward. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 20 Nov. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'smother.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of smother


circa 1520, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for smother


Middle English, alteration of smorther, from smoren to smother, from Old English smorian to suffocate; akin to Middle Dutch smoren to suffocate

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The first known use of smother was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Smother.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for smother


smoth·​er | \ ˈsmə-t͟hər How to pronounce smother (audio) \
smothered; smothering

Kids Definition of smother

1 : to kill or injure by keeping from getting air or by exposing to smoke or fumes : suffocate
2 : to become suffocated
3 : to keep from growing or developing by or as if by covering smother a fire … anguish smothered her smallest joy.— Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising
4 : to keep from happening : suppress I tried to smother a yawn.
5 : to cover thickly The salad was smothered with dressing.

More from Merriam-Webster on smother

Nglish: Translation of smother for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smother for Arabic Speakers


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