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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Kara sipped the one he handed her and spluttered.’
    • ‘Norwood coughed and spluttered, trying to speak.’
    • ‘Vic looked at them as a sooty Tom coughed and spluttered.’
    • ‘Trying to scramble back onto the bank all grace aside, she kicked and spluttered.’
    • ‘You will find it splutters around, sometimes spitting spots of fuel from the exhaust, not seeming very impressive.’
    • ‘‘It wasn't much, around seven million,’ she paused as the Inspector choked and spluttered.’
    • ‘She began to cough and splutter sickly, the urge to do so appearing quite abruptly.’
    • ‘I run this by Mrs Webber who splutters for a second.’
    • ‘Will I emerge gasping and spluttering, bleary-eyed; or will I learn to hold my breath, to close my eyes?’
    • ‘As the Boss choked and spluttered for air he fished in his pocket for something.’
    • ‘I gave a gasping cry and began breathing heavily, then choked and spluttered for his benefit.’
    • ‘Julia splutters as she swallows the last sip of her wine.’
    • ‘At last the tractor began to spit and splutter in protest and Papa and I knew that our efforts had nearly paid off.’
    • ‘The man choked and spluttered, but didn't answer.’
    • ‘Matt spluttered, letting a small bit of his beer spill from his mouth, ‘I thought he took out the cameras!’’
    • ‘His brother spluttered all the way to the table but to no avail.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It overheated, it clunked, it smoked, stuttered, spluttered and on more than one occasion - blew up.’
    • ‘The heater coughed and spluttered loudly and we both laughed nervously, trying to ease the tension.’
    jabber, babble, prattle, rattle, blabber, gibber, cackle, blab, drivel, twitter
    View synonyms
    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’
      • ‘The lips of the sentinel quivered as he spluttered out the words: ‘I - apologise, my Lord!’’
      • ‘Patrick spluttered, ‘You, you had no right to trick me like this.’’
      • ‘‘It's absolutely scandalous,’ he splutters.’
      • ‘It must have been too much for him that he could only splutter, ‘I don't believe it!’
      • ‘‘Oh God,’ I spluttered, as I leapt to my feet and rushed to the bathroom.’
      • ‘‘Kara - Kara Sarris,’ he finally spluttered the words out.’
      • ‘‘There are tragic things that happen all over the world’, he spluttered.’
      • ‘That didn't matter, though, as the infuriated lord proceeded to splutter his way through a listing of the problems.’
      • ‘‘You,’ he splutters, turning red in the face, ‘you've drugged her!’’
      • ‘I spluttered, ‘Well, if it bothers you, Jacquiline, I won't go with her.’’
    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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He couldn't help but think it strange that she greeted him in a splutter.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘With a final awkward splutter, the flame barrier vanished.’
    • ‘They wait for what seems an eternity in the waiting area amongst a baby's cries, coughs, splutters and a awkward, piercing, silence.’
    • ‘The words came out in short excited little splutters.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I find myself increasingly irritated by the occasional coughs and splutters of the audience.’
    • ‘As it turned out, the opening 45 minutes of the film are by far the most entertaining; the coughs and splutters come later.’
    • ‘Steve and Andy stand in front of us and collapse into ridiculous splutters.’
    • ‘She nodded, understanding, ignoring Aaron's splutters of indignation.’
    • ‘No sobs or splutters or hiccoughs spilled from her trembling lip, although, her lip did tremble.’
    • ‘Beth started the old car and after and few coughs, and splutters, it began to move.’


Late 17th century: imitative; compare with sputter.