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

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 For months, the Bay Area has been waiting for significant rainfall to smother wildfires, dampen bone-dry hillsides and fill depleted reservoirs. Michael Cabanatuan, Julie Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Oct. 2021 The goal in doing this is to smother the flames, so they are extinguished quickly. oregonlive, 2 Nov. 2021 The Taliban has issued edicts that are likely to smother what few independent media outlets survived the collapse of the U.S.-backed government. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 27 Oct. 2021 If there's no water available, smother the flames with something made of cloth. Colleen Murphy,, 22 Sep. 2021 This stew is great on its own or can be used to smother burritos. Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, 6 Oct. 2021 Bri Visalli fired from the corner of the six-yard box and Hogan did well to smother it. oregonlive, 19 Aug. 2021 Yet none of that will matter if none of them can step up in these final weeks and, on seminal occasions, make plays big enough to eventually catch the Giants and smother them. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 12 Aug. 2021 Crude oil can smother deep-water corals and kill a critical food source for blue whales, according to Oceana, an ocean conservation organization. Amy Taxin, ajc, 9 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The brew of exotics has unleashed noxious algae outbreaks that smother beaches in foot-deep goo that looks like creamed spinach and smells like the bowels of a porta potty., 30 Aug. 2021 Neither of these selections are for those who shy away from spice, however, the intense heat managed to highlight, rather than smother, the pork and the shrimp – an impressive feat, given the level of heat. Dahlia Ghabour, The Courier-Journal, 7 Aug. 2021 Prosecutors said Brinkman slit Taylor’s throat, strangled Kylie Pifer with a telephone cord and smother Taylor Pifer with a pillow in June 2017 at the women’s North Royalton home. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, 21 July 2021 All of these items promised to ward off, murder, smother or otherwise expunge my pest problem. Jessica Roy, Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2021 Spain then had Simon to thank for keeping them in the game, with the goalkeeper coming out quickly to smother substitute Domenico Berardi's effort. Matias Grez, CNN, 6 July 2021 Will years of oak leaves accumulating on the soil smother Asian jasmine and keep its roots from grabbing the ground? Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, 26 Mar. 2021 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, 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,, 13 Dec. 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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The first known use of smother was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

18 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Smother.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2021.

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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 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on smother

Nglish: Translation of smother for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smother for Arabic Speakers


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