Definition of putt-putt in US English:


(also put-put)


  • The rapid intermittent sound of a small gasoline engine.

    ‘she heard the putt-putt of a boat coming toward them’
    • ‘Elsewhere, the delightful putt-putt sounds of fishing traffic off Vancouver Island sidle up alongside the Pärt and Ligeti and early Floyd influences.’
    • ‘For such a big machine, it made an incredibly gentle noise, the calming putt-putt of an outboard engine on a small boat.’
    • ‘I know that put-put green screams ‘Beware of cyclists’ to me.’
    • ‘As the machine put-putted, the lights came on gradually.’
    • ‘It's 6.15 pm on an early Autumn evening and we are put-putting straight into the heart of the sun set.’
    • ‘I waved as I put-putted past each packed bus stop.’
    • ‘She doesn't hear the putt-putt of the moped as it approaches.’
    • ‘Five minutes pass and a Thai long-tail fishing boat put-puts into view.’
    • ‘I didn't really have time to put-put along, so I slipped into my ‘road rage’ mood and listened to hard rock on some radio station.’
    • ‘Mr Sportage seemed to run out of puff after that, and by comparison put-putted the last 15 minutes before home.’


[no object]
  • Make a rapid intermittent sound.

    ‘the machine gun putt-putted behind me’
    • ‘They were plunging feet-first toward a little motorboat putt-putting across the ocean.’
    • ‘It started to sputter and putt-putt and just as I reached my friends' garage door, it died.’


Early 20th century: imitative.