1

smother

verb smoth·er \ ˈsmə-t͟hər \
|Updated on: 10 Aug 2018

Definition of smother

smothered; smothering play \ˈsmə-t͟hə-riŋ, ˈsmət͟h-riŋ\
1 a : 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
2 a : 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
: to be overcome or killed through or as if through lack of air

Examples of smother in a Sentence

  1. He tried to smother her with a pillow.

  2. She smothered the fire with a blanket.

Recent Examples of smother from the Web

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

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

2

smother

noun

Definition of smother

1 a : 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

smothery

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

Recent Examples of smother from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of smother

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


SMOTHER Defined for English Language Learners

smother

Definition of smother for English Language Learners

  • : 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)


SMOTHER Defined for Kids

smother

verb smoth·er \ ˈsmə-t͟hər \

Definition of smother for Students

smothered; smothering
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.


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

having an air of easy unconcern

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens-painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!