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

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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 Superior oil, also called horticultural oil, is a highly refined miscible oil (up to 99.9 percent pure) that when mixed with water and sprayed on trees will smother overwintering insects and their eggs. Kym Pokorny | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Get a leg up on fruit tree problems with dormant oils," 28 Dec. 2020 In the following days, my feet looked gorgeously clean and soft, and my sheets looked like they’d been used to smother a person with bad dandruff. Jenny Singer, Glamour, "This Baby Foot Peel Really Does Give You the Softest Feet of Your Life," 28 Dec. 2020 But since June, winds have shaken the surface strongly enough to smother all but a handful of new quakes. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Mars lander spots deep layers beneath the surface, offering clues to the planet’s formation," 15 Dec. 2020 Critics say doing so will smother the last remnants of democracy in Venezuela. Fox News, "Venezuelan voting begins in disputed assembly elections amid boycotts from opposition," 7 Dec. 2020 Not just for turkey, my grandfather, Poppy, used to heap the spicy, briny goodness onto pork chops and smother it all down in gravy. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, "This oyster stuffing is great for Thanksgiving — and even better the next day," 19 Nov. 2020 Yet when the maps are recalibrated for population rather than area, the blue areas blow up, expanding to smother half the country — a graphical metaphor for the dominant cultural influence of city over country. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Rural Way," 24 Nov. 2020 Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said fiscal policy support, not additional monetary-policy action, is what the U.S. needs most as surging Covid-19 infection rates threaten to smother economic activity. Catarina Saraiva,, "Fed Officials Voice Economic Concerns But Not Ready to Boost Aid," 19 Nov. 2020 With defensive coordinator Clark Lea tilting his defense to smother the ACC’s all-time leading rusher in Etienne, McCloud and Lewis at times didn’t have much help. Eric Hansen, The Indianapolis Star, "Notre Dame football midseason report: Team MVP, top newcomers, biggest surprises and more," 10 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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, "Tested: 2021 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo Is a Tuner Car for Grownups," 20 Nov. 2020 So all Mack did was use his comic book power and explosion to blow past Fulton and smother quarterback Deshaun Watson in the end zone. Dan Wiederer,, "Column: Do your eyes trust what they see? Translating the Chicago Bears’ most convincing win all season is complicated.," 13 Dec. 2020 Sauté slices with duck breast; add to a pork roast or smother apples and sauerkraut with some game sausages. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, "These apple cinnamon doughnut muffins will give you all the fall feels," 1 Oct. 2020 This allows the control-arm suspensions to smother potholes, leaving the ride uncannily smooth. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2021 Infiniti QX80 Remains Relevant," 24 Nov. 2020 Pittsburgh’s smother-ous, Big Brother-ous encore crushing of Cincinnati Sunday was a speed bump in the supermarket parking lot. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, "Doc's Morning Line: 10 things from Bengals' blowout loss to Steelers," 16 Nov. 2020 Scientists say the technique could help officials trace and smother outbreaks, and could shed light on the origins of the nation’s most high-profile coronavirus cluster: the outbreak at the White House. Anchorage Daily News, "Scientists use virus’s genetic code in attempt to control it," 14 Oct. 2020 They have been brainwashed to think that leaves smother lawns. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "Take these tasks off your autumn to-do list forever," 1 Oct. 2020 The Ave Maria, the gospel choir, the smell of chrysanthemums in a church, the shiva basket, the repast, the wake, the stories, songs, tears and the hugs that smother kids in Auntie’s organza dress and magnolia perfume. Washington Post, "Grieving alone during the pandemic is hard. RBG’s memorial might be helping us cope.," 24 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for smother

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for smother

Last Updated

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Smother.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for smother


How to pronounce smother (audio)

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 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.

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