Printable Version
Pronunciation: smæ-dêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To dabble in, to know superficially, as to smatter French. 2. To chatter, prattle, as to smatter on about her grandchildren.

Notes: Please do not confuse this words with sa'mattah, slurred English for "what's the matter?" In fact, be careful to pronounce all the syllables in this phrase. Someone who smatters something or in something is a smatterer, but the noun we hear the most is smattering "a little bit, a very small amount", as to know a smattering of French, German, and Italian.

In Play: It is the noun from this word that we encounter most frequently: "Good parents know a smattering about raising kids as they are growing up, but they don't truly understand the job until the kids are grown." It is, though, a legitimate verb that we can use as freely as we do the noun: "Wilton has spent his life smattering in various jobs without caring much for any of them."

Word History: No one knows even a smattering of the history of today's Good Word. We can see spelling similarities in Swedish smattra "to patter, crackle, rattle" and German schmettern "to dash, resound", but any real connection with these words is very doubtful due to the wide semantic mismatches. (We owe much more than a smattering of thanks to Harry Hill, who suggested today's titteringly Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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