sputter

verb
sput·​ter | \ ˈspə-tər How to pronounce sputter (audio) \
sputtered; sputtering; sputters

Definition of sputter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to spit or squirt from the mouth with explosive sounds
2 : to utter hastily or explosively in confusion or excitement "that's ridiculous!" she sputtered
3 : to dislodge (atoms) from the surface of a material by collision with high energy particles also : to deposit (a metallic film) by such a process

intransitive verb

1 : to spit or squirt particles of food or saliva noisily from the mouth
2 : to speak explosively or confusedly in anger or excitement
3 : to make explosive popping sounds

sputter

noun

Definition of sputter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : confused and excited speech or discussion
2 : the act or sound of sputtering

Other Words from sputter

Verb

sputterer noun

Examples of sputter in a Sentence

Verb The motor sputtered and died. He was sputtering with rage. She sputtered an angry protest. “You, you have to be kidding!” he sputtered.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the race to the bottom of the valley aquifers, growers can pump so much that thousands of residential wells sputter and die. Susie Cagle, Wired, 12 Apr. 2022 Meanwhile, as negotiations sputter on between Ukraine and Russia, the issue of sanctions—whether or when to halt them—is being discussed by the Western powers. Jo-ann Mort, The New Republic, 31 Mar. 2022 At that point, many prosecutions sputter out or are pleaded down to misdemeanors. New York Times, 24 Nov. 2021 The company also said production in Wolfsburg would begin to sputter next week and stop the following week because of a lack of parts. William Boston, WSJ, 3 Mar. 2022 With a jeep and five soldiers in his C-47 Skytrain, one of the plane’s two engines began to sputter. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, 28 Jan. 2022 Once a critical mass of the country — and the world — gained immunity from the shots, the coronavirus would struggle to find new hosts, and the global outbreak would sputter and die. Karen Kaplan Science And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 28 Dec. 2021 In basic terms, this means that when a runner wants to kick it into high gear, their engine may sputter like a car with only three of its four cylinders working. Patrick Wilson, Outside Online, 24 July 2020 The Americans spent much of the period threatening the Czech defense, only to see their offense continue to sputter. New York Times, 11 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As wings shrink, air friction overwhelms flight power—that’s why dragonflies soar as houseflies sputter. Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 21 Mar. 2022 Hope and optimism are huge areas of need for a skeptical fanbase watching a Kliff Kingsbury team sputter toward the finish line — again. Greg Moore, The Arizona Republic, 19 Dec. 2021 That obstacle seemed likely to prove more unyielding than ever in 2021, when the return from a 60-game to a 162-game season raised the specter of a dramatic late-summer sputter. BostonGlobe.com, 15 Aug. 2021 Palou, who has looked every bit the part of a Dixon-esque champion for so much of 2021, saw his engine sputter in smoke and drop from 4th to 27th with 20 laps to go last month on the IMS road course. Nathan Brown, USA TODAY, 18 Sep. 2021 That has seen its basketball team sputter in postseason after postseason. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 31 Oct. 2021 Because of this, Dallas’ offense and defense sputter all season with the Mavericks limping into the playoffs, staring down another first-round exit. Doyle Rader, Forbes, 13 Oct. 2021 Palou, who has looked every bit the part of a Dixon-esque champion for so much of 2021, saw his engine sputter in smoke and drop from 4th to 27th with 20 laps to go last month on the IMS road course. Nathan Brown, USA TODAY, 18 Sep. 2021 Anyone who has followed U.S. climate policy is familiar with the cycle of bold attempts to enact climate rules that eventually sputter, followed by years of inaction. Justin Worland, Time, 5 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sputter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of sputter

Verb

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sputter

Verb

akin to Dutch sputteren to sputter

Learn More About sputter

Time Traveler for sputter

Time Traveler

The first known use of sputter was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near sputter

Sputnik

sputter

sputteringly

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sputter

Last Updated

24 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sputter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sputter. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for sputter

sputter

verb
sput·​ter | \ ˈspə-tər How to pronounce sputter (audio) \
sputtered; sputtering

Kids Definition of sputter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to spit noisily from the mouth She came out of the water coughing and sputtering.
2 : to speak in a hasty or explosive way in confusion or excitement Students sputtered out protests.
3 : to make explosive popping sounds The motor sputtered and died.

sputter

noun

Kids Definition of sputter (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act or sound of sputtering

More from Merriam-Webster on sputter

Nglish: Translation of sputter for Spanish Speakers

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