smoth·er | \ˈsmə-t͟hər \
smothered; smothering\ˈsmə-t͟hə-riŋ, 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

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Other Words from smother


smothery \ˈsmə-t͟hə-rē, ˈsmət͟h-rē \ adjective

Examples of smother in a Sentence


He tried to smother her with a pillow. She smothered the fire with a blanket.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And their team is not satisfied with a tie: Roman Zobnin fizzes a low shot that Subasic scrambles to smother on the left side of the goal 115’: GOAL RUSSIA! Mário Fernandes with a header to save the host nation! Rory Smith, New York Times, "Russia Finally Falls, Leaving a Trail of Admirers and Doubters," 8 July 2018 Cochran gave Jason a lethal dose of heroin then smothered him to death on Feb. 20, 2016, the Gary Post Tribune reported. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "What we know about convicted Indiana killer and possible cannibal Kelly Cochran," 21 June 2018 With Joe Ingles smothered on the outside and Donovan Mitchell perhaps being asked to do too much, Utah had no chance at keeping up with Houston. Rohan Nadkarni,, "Don’t Sleep on the Rockets’ Defense," 5 May 2018 The Pistons center smothered Dinwiddie on pick-and-rolls to set a defensive tone that led to a 114-80 victory at the Barclays Center. Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons use Andre Drummond to smother Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie," 10 Jan. 2018 Instead, Findikoglu has created romantic suiting and elaborate—and enormous—gowns, some with panniers, others smothered in ruffles, and one that’s completely sheer on top. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Dilara Findikoglu Is Launching the Most Inclusive Fantastical Collection of Wedding Attire," 20 June 2018 An unexpected delight was the Kreyol pasta, ($18), penne smothered in a spicy cream sauce with a choice of chicken and shrimp or Andouille sausage and shrimp. Stephanie Schorow,, "Spice up your palate with Haitian delights," 8 June 2018 His central nervous system was smothered by tumors. John Canzano,, "Canzano: How Portland lands a Major League Baseball team... expansion to relocation and back," 5 June 2018 They are smothered in a buffalo sauce and topped with blue cheese., "TAVERN IN THE SQUARE," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The 40-minute mindset, the smother-ous defense, the varied scoring options. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc: Georgia State game was the best and worst of UC basketball," 16 Mar. 2018 Excessive moisture smothers and kills roots, leading to discolored and dying foliage. Debbie Arrington, sacbee, "Spray or drip irrigation: Which way is best for your garden?," 20 Oct. 2017 Smothers, who lived in the unit block of Osborne Road, was pronounced dead at the scene. David Anderson, The Aegis, "Charges dropped in 2016 Aberdeen double homicide," 25 Aug. 2017 Smothers remains in critical condition at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, "Firefighters describe critically injured colleague as humble future leader," 10 Aug. 2017

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.

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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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Statistics for smother

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smother

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

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More Definitions for smother



English Language Learners Definition of smother

: to kill (someone) by covering the face so that breathing is not possible

: to cover (something) in order to keep it from growing or spreading

: to try to keep (something) from happening : to try to stop doing (something)


smoth·er | \ˈsmə-t͟hər \
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.

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Comments on smother

What made you want to look up smother? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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