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

Synonyms for smother

Synonyms: Verb

choke, stifle, strangle, suffocate

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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

There’s a distinction between being supportive and smothering a survivor with attention. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "What You Should Know About Dating a Domestic Abuse Survivor," 26 Oct. 2018 Also go for: The beautiful River Walk, smothered-chicken-fried steak at Lulu’s, and a visit to the Japanese tea gardens. Condé Nast Traveler, "8 Most Haunted Cities In America and Why You Should Visit," 18 Oct. 2018 While most mix-and-matchers use different masks to treat different skin issues, Centineo takes a more devil-may-care attitude, smothering random sections of his face with each mask. Andrea Park, Allure, "We Challenged Noah Centineo to Try Our Favorite Beauty Treatments and the Results Are Amazing," 21 Sep. 2018 Even as the state battles wildfires that have smothered Puget Sound in smoke for the last two summers, Washington lawmakers have underfunded efforts to control the burning. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "Despite the scourge of smoky summers, Washington underfunds wildfire-control efforts," 4 Sep. 2018 Rhubarb Growing Guidelines Once plants sprout, apply mulch to retain soil moisture and smother weeds. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow the Most Pie-Worthy Rhubarb Ever," 30 May 2018 His carelessness on the bases smothered a second-inning rally. Andy Mccullough,, "Yasiel Puig’s play is not a pretty picture in 9-4 loss to Cubs," 27 June 2018 Kelly eventually confessed to injecting her husband with heroin and then smothering him to death in their home. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Whitest Cookout Ever: Woman Suspected of Killing Lover, Serving His Remains at Barbecue," 17 May 2018 Their shooters were blanketed, their big man smothered. David Murphy,, "Celtics' NBA playoff win teaches Sixers a lot about where they need to go from here | David Murphy," 10 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

14 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on smother

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with smother

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for smother

Spanish Central: Translation of smother

Nglish: Translation of smother for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smother for Arabic Speakers

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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