from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To make a quick succession of light soft tapping sounds: Rain pattered steadily against the glass.
  • intransitive v. To move with quick, light, softly audible steps.
  • transitive v. To cause to patter.
  • n. A quick succession of light soft tapping sounds: the patter of rain on the rooftops.
  • intransitive v. To speak or chatter glibly and rapidly.
  • intransitive v. To mumble prayers in a mechanical manner.
  • transitive v. To utter in a glib, rapid, or mechanical manner.
  • n. The jargon of a particular group; cant.
  • n. Glib rapid speech, as of an auctioneer, salesperson, or comedian.
  • n. Meaningless talk; chatter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The soft sound of feet walking on a hard surface.
  • v. To make irregularly repeated sounds of low-to-moderate magnitude and lower-than-average pitch.
  • n. Glib and rapid speech, such as from an auctioneer, or banter during a sports event.
  • v. To speak in such a way – glibly and rapidly, such as from an auctioneer, or when bantering during a sports event.
  • n. One who pats.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A quick succession of slight sounds
  • n. Glib and rapid speech; a voluble harangue.
  • n. The cant of a class; patois
  • n. The language or oratory of a street peddler, conjurer, or the like, hence, glib talk; a voluble harangue; mere talk; chatter; also, specif., rapid speech, esp. as sometimes introduced in songs.
  • intransitive v. To strike with a quick succession of slight, sharp sounds
  • intransitive v. To mutter; to mumble.
  • intransitive v. To talk glibly; to chatter; to harangue.
  • transitive v. To spatter; to sprinkle.
  • transitive v. To mutter; as prayers.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make a quick succession of small sounds by striking against the ground or any object: as, the pattering of raindrops on a roof.
  • To move with quick steps, making a succession of small sounds; hence, to make a succession of small sounds resembling those of short quick steps or of falling rain or hailstones.
  • To cause to strike or beat in drops; spatter.
  • To repeat the Lord's Prayer; hence, generally, to pray.
  • To talk; especially, to talk glibly or rapidly, as a cheap John in disposing of his wares.
  • To repeat something again and again in a rapid or mumbling way; mumble; mutter.
  • To repeat rapidly or often, especially in a hurried, mumbling way; repeat hurriedly and monotonously; mumble; mutter: as, to patter prayers.
  • To eat.
  • n. A quick succession of small sounds: as, the patter of rain or hail; the patter of little feet.
  • n. Talk, especially glib or fluent talk; the oratory of a cheap John in disposing of his wares.
  • n. Gossip; chatter.
  • n. The dialect or patois of a class; slang; cant: as, gipsies’ patter; thieves’ patter.
  • n. Rapid phrases introduced into a song in a speaking voice: sometimes applied to the whole text of a comedy.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. rain gently
  • v. make light, rapid and repeated sounds
  • n. a quick succession of light rapid sounds
  • n. plausible glib talk (especially useful to a salesperson)


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Frequentative of pat1.
Middle English pateren, shortening and alteration of paternoster, paternoster (from the mechanical and rapid recitation of the prayer); see paternoster.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1610s, pat +‎ -er (“frequentative (indicating repeated action)”), of (onomatopoeia) origin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Circa 1400, from paternoster ("the Lord's prayer"), possibly influenced by imitative sense (above), Latin pater ("father"), from Proto-Indo-European *ph₂tḗr.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

pat +‎ -er (“agent”)


  • The only similar patter is the Roaring 20′s, but on a much smaller scale.

    Irrational Exhuberance and the Animal Spirits : Law is Cool

  • I can't imagine a Spielberg film ending with a young boy watching a senator speak on TV and turning away because his patter is utterly irrelevant and probably full of lies.

    GreenCine Daily: Interview. Bong Joon-ho.

  • Personally, I see no break from the longer term patter established beginning last April, although I very much want to see declines from 480,000 in the next couple of weeks.

    The Bonddad Blog

  • And for the first time, I actually listen to the patter from the little guys fighting and dying on our screen; We're fucking dying over here!

    Naughty words...

  • In the first of his four nights at the Metropolitan, it was impossible to miss the polarized extremes of his presentation: In his onstage patter, which is a wry parody of the pretentious things that performers say and critics write, he is slyly understated and as dry as six martinis.

    Swinging Into New Styles

  • At first, she thought it was simply his natural, outward-looking character, but when he time and again slid around her carefully posed questions, when she caught a flicker of his lashes, and a sharp, far-from-innocent glance, she realized his patter was a shield of sorts — a defense he deployed, all but instinctively, against women who wanted to get to know him.

    The Perfect Lover

  • What our great ballad-writers call the patter of tiny feet is stilled.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 147, August 12, 1914

  • The patter was an integral part of the show, and clearly road-tested: She knew she'd get a laugh when she said the songs on "Interpretations" were written by young Britons "who were high" and had to be revamped for "a 65-year-old black woman who was drunk."

    The Washington Post: National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines - The Washington Post

  • "It makes my heart patter, like that" -- she made her little fingers "patter" - "to be wooed even by a Yankee.

    The Ne'er-Do-Well

  • The sales people I work with are learning how to listen more, to cut out the 'patter' and build relationships.

    James M. Lynch: Your Very Own 'Once Upon a Time'


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.