Definition of splutter in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Make a series of short explosive spitting or choking sounds.

    ‘she coughed and spluttered, tears coursing down her face’
    • ‘‘It wasn't much, around seven million,’ she paused as the Inspector choked and spluttered.’
    • ‘I gave a gasping cry and began breathing heavily, then choked and spluttered for his benefit.’
    • ‘The man choked and spluttered, but didn't answer.’
    • ‘You will find it splutters around, sometimes spitting spots of fuel from the exhaust, not seeming very impressive.’
    • ‘As the Boss choked and spluttered for air he fished in his pocket for something.’
    • ‘Kara sipped the one he handed her and spluttered.’
    • ‘Her nostrils flare and she splutters, frothing bubbles from her nose, laying a thick trail of wrong wayed fluid in her wind pipe, but holding in the cough; drinking, and putting everything else on hold.’
    • ‘But be warned - take a deep breath before you push that button or, like me, you could find yourself gasping and spluttering amid a thick mist of spray.’
    • ‘His brother spluttered all the way to the table but to no avail.’
    • ‘At last the tractor began to spit and splutter in protest and Papa and I knew that our efforts had nearly paid off.’
    • ‘The heater coughed and spluttered loudly and we both laughed nervously, trying to ease the tension.’
    • ‘I run this by Mrs Webber who splutters for a second.’
    • ‘Matt spluttered, letting a small bit of his beer spill from his mouth, ‘I thought he took out the cameras!’’
    • ‘Vic looked at them as a sooty Tom coughed and spluttered.’
    • ‘It overheated, it clunked, it smoked, stuttered, spluttered and on more than one occasion - blew up.’
    • ‘Julia splutters as she swallows the last sip of her wine.’
    • ‘Trying to scramble back onto the bank all grace aside, she kicked and spluttered.’
    • ‘Norwood coughed and spluttered, trying to speak.’
    • ‘Will I emerge gasping and spluttering, bleary-eyed; or will I learn to hold my breath, to close my eyes?’
    • ‘She began to cough and splutter sickly, the urge to do so appearing quite abruptly.’
    jabber, babble, prattle, rattle, blabber, gibber, cackle, blab, drivel, twitter
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    1. 1.1reporting verb Say something rapidly, indistinctly, and with a spitting sound, as a result of anger, embarrassment, or another strong emotion.
      with object ‘he began to splutter excuses’
      with direct speech ‘“How dare you?” she spluttered’
      • ‘‘It's absolutely scandalous,’ he splutters.’
      • ‘‘Oh God,’ I spluttered, as I leapt to my feet and rushed to the bathroom.’
      • ‘It must have been too much for him that he could only splutter, ‘I don't believe it!’
      • ‘‘You,’ he splutters, turning red in the face, ‘you've drugged her!’’
      • ‘Patrick spluttered, ‘You, you had no right to trick me like this.’’
      • ‘I spluttered, ‘Well, if it bothers you, Jacquiline, I won't go with her.’’
      • ‘‘Kara - Kara Sarris,’ he finally spluttered the words out.’
      • ‘That didn't matter, though, as the infuriated lord proceeded to splutter his way through a listing of the problems.’
      • ‘The lips of the sentinel quivered as he spluttered out the words: ‘I - apologise, my Lord!’’
      • ‘‘There are tragic things that happen all over the world’, he spluttered.’
    2. 1.2with object Spit (something) out from one's mouth noisily and in small splashes.
      ‘spluttering brackish water, he struggled to regain his feet’
      • ‘He splutters water as he tries to inhale more air.’
      • ‘Maybe it's the joy of playing it to friends who pride themselves on liking extreme music, and watching them splutter tea down their fronts.’
      snap, say angrily, hiss, rasp
      View synonyms


  • A short explosive spitting or choking noise.

    • ‘Beth started the old car and after and few coughs, and splutters, it began to move.’
    • ‘With a final awkward splutter, the flame barrier vanished.’
    • ‘No sobs or splutters or hiccoughs spilled from her trembling lip, although, her lip did tremble.’
    • ‘As it turned out, the opening 45 minutes of the film are by far the most entertaining; the coughs and splutters come later.’
    • ‘Each splutter sprayed scarlet beads over her ghost-white frame, and over Raven when Nelly snatched at her shoulders in an attempt to steady herself.’
    • ‘I find myself increasingly irritated by the occasional coughs and splutters of the audience.’
    • ‘She nodded, understanding, ignoring Aaron's splutters of indignation.’
    • ‘All this, including conversations à trois at cross-purposes, with three-way splutters, is supposed to make the play more interesting but merely makes it all the more annoying.’
    • ‘They wait for what seems an eternity in the waiting area amongst a baby's cries, coughs, splutters and a awkward, piercing, silence.’
    • ‘Steve and Andy stand in front of us and collapse into ridiculous splutters.’
    • ‘He couldn't help but think it strange that she greeted him in a splutter.’
    • ‘A spindly old man produced a bagpipe and blew it in competition with the flutist, beginning in wild, warlike tones and ending with an ignominious splutter and hiss.’
    • ‘The words came out in short excited little splutters.’


Late 17th century: imitative; compare with sputter.