smoth·​er | \ ˈsmə-t͟hər How to pronounce smother (audio) \
smothered; smothering\ ˈsmə-​t͟hə-​riŋ How to pronounce smothering (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 smothery (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 Olive smothered the grenade, and while he was killed, his actions saved the lives of his fellow soldiers, according to Buckhout. David Anderson,, "Communities must care for veterans when they come home, Aberdeen Veterans Day speaker says," 12 Nov. 2019 But with the tying run at the plate and just one out, Sameei retired the next batter with a throw to first baseman John Carver, before Carver smothered a ground ball and stepped on first base to end the game. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Friendswood Blue 7U Pinto All-Stars bag Blue Division’s top seed for Sunday’s title round," 13 July 2019 The Jamaican version is a large fish, fried with the head on, then smothered in onions and carrots and given a pepper-and-pimento sauce so liberally doused with vinegar as to seem pickled. Rand Richards Cooper,, "Review: Saz Jamaican Restaurant, Newington," 10 July 2019 Vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two fudge cakes, smothered with hot fudge and topped with freshly whipped topping and a cherry. Jennie Key,, "Five reasons Cincinnati loves Frisch's," 6 June 2018 The shots finally fell, the defense was smothering and and the Blazers ended a four-game losing streak during a 102-93 win over the Utah Jazz, easing into the playoffs with a little momentum rather than a cloud of doubt. Joe Freeman,, "Trail Blazers notes: Playoff momentum, Moe Harkless update, Maurice Lucas Award," 12 Apr. 2018 The result was the announcement of a series of superficial measures aimed at smothering the scandal and winning back skeptical users at minimal cost. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Mark Zuckerberg’s Half-Hearted Reckoning," 22 Mar. 2018 And what the brothers wanted was to smother any person, Native or not, that would ever dare reenact the Standing Rock protests when the pipelines inevitably came for them. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "David Koch Is Gone, but His Pipelines Are Here to Stay," 23 Aug. 2019 The sun starts to set, and shadows stretch over the landscape so that the larger dunes appear to smother the smaller dunes until nothing is left but silhouettes. Jennifer Emerling, National Geographic, "Seeking silence on a California road trip," 6 Aug. 2019 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

16 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for smother

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on smother

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for smother

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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 engage in dissolute behavior

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