Definition of smattering in English:


(also smatter)


  • 1A slight superficial knowledge of a language or subject.

    ‘Edward had only a smattering of Welsh’
    • ‘The entire trip, spanning a period of 118 days, enabled the couple to pick up a smattering of local languages wherever they went.’
    • ‘With an aptitude for languages and a smattering of Italian, she'd chatter away to people, gradually getting the hang of the Liguarian dialect.’
    • ‘He could speak a smattering of Maori, or pidgin Maori, where the language is broken down and simplified, so he was given the job of interpreter.’
    • ‘He has a smattering of Arabic, and has knowledge of the way the Islamic people in the Gulf States and the surrounding areas act and react.’
    • ‘That our small group seemed to be the only foreigners - with barely a smattering of the language between us - in a sea of Russians mattered not at all.’
    1. 1.1A small amount of something.
      ‘a smattering of snow’
      • ‘It was fairly empty, with smatterings of people milling around.’
      • ‘Stepping out, Moira spotted a smattering of familiar faces among the crowd.’
      • ‘The songs are very reminiscent in parts of early Floyd, with smatterings of elements of Echoes and Animals thrown in for good measure.’
      • ‘The clientele are older and wealthy with a few smatterings of known faces.’
      • ‘A smattering of naturalized yellow narcissi can make a barren bit of property look like a natural wonder.’
      bit, small amount, little, modicum, touch, soupçon
      superficial knowledge, nodding acquaintance, passing acquaintance, rudiments, elements, basics
      smidgen, smidge, tad
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Mid 16th century: from smatter ‘talk ignorantly, prate’ (surviving in Scots), of unknown origin.