squat·​ter | \ˈskwä-tər \
squattered; squattering; squatters

Definition of squatter 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to go along through or as if through water ducks squattering to the shore



Definition of squatter (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that squats: such as

a : one that settles on property without right or title or payment of rent

b : one that settles on public land under government regulation with the purpose of acquiring title

Examples of squatter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The land bank shares the blame for its squatters' troubles. Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press, "Evictions, flipping tarnish effort to turn squatters into homeowners," 26 Apr. 2018 Between February and April the agency held six meetings with the leaders of the housing movement to discuss the risks of living there and the possibility of legal action to remove the squatters. Jill Langlois, latimes.com, "They squatted in a government building in Brazil for years. Then they lost everything," 4 June 2018 Out front is one long unbroken run of rusting metal grates, beat-up signs, and decaying paint, while the area around back is littered with crushed beer cans, pillows, women’s lingerie, and signs of squatters. Alex Gailey, BostonGlobe.com, "Battered storefronts undermine progress at Dudley Square," 25 June 2018 Especially when done for squatters—trespassers—this expropriates a landlord’s property without compensation. WSJ, "It’s Time for a Federal Class Action for Property Rights," 6 June 2018 Initially, the people in Canaan were declared squatters by the government, and many aid groups were leery of offering them assistance. Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, "Trump is telling those who fled Haiti earthquake to leave the U.S. What will they go back to?," 28 May 2018 Families had no water and power, and spoke of squatters and gangs taking over, of gunshots and the blood of a dead boy staining the pavement. Joshua Sharpe, ajc, "Good things coming for notorious, crime-infested DeKalb complex?," 7 July 2018 Neighbors in Airport Heights found a welcome sight Thursday: An excavator in the driveway of a empty, derelict house that had been attracting squatters and other problems. Devin Kelly, Anchorage Daily News, "An abandoned home is sold. An Anchorage neighborhood rejoices.," 29 June 2018 The house wasn't connected to a natural gas line, and neighbors and Koessel said it was frequented by squatters who had done a bunch of damage to the house even before the fire, in part because the county did a poor job of boarding it up. David North, Chicago Reader, "Architecture / Crime / Arts Historic home destroyed in fire; ex-owner furious at county for home’s demise," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'squatter.' 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 squatter


1785, in the meaning defined above


1788, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for squatter



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The first known use of squatter was in 1785

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English Language Learners Definition of squatter

: someone who lives in a building or on land without the permission of the owner and without paying : someone who squats


squat·​ter | \ˈskwä-tər\

Legal Definition of squatter 

: a person who occupies real property without a claim of right or title

Note: In most jurisdictions, a squatter cannot gain title to land through adverse possession because adverse possession requires possession of the property under a claim of right or color of title.

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More from Merriam-Webster on squatter

See words that rhyme with squatter

Spanish Central: Translation of squatter

Britannica English: Translation of squatter for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about squatter

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playful or foolish behavior

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