Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To speak (a language) without fluency: smatters Russian.
  • transitive v. To study or approach superficially; dabble in.
  • intransitive v. To prattle: smattered on about her vacation.
  • n. A smattering.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To talk superficially; to babble.
  • v. To speak (a language) with spotty or superficial knowledge.
  • v. (figuratively) To study or approach superficially; to dabble in.
  • n. superficial knowledge; a smattering

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To talk superficially or ignorantly; to babble; to chatter.
  • intransitive v. To have a slight taste, or a slight, superficial knowledge, of anything; to smack.
  • transitive v. To talk superficially about.
  • transitive v. To gain a slight taste of; to acquire a slight, superficial knowledge of; to smack.
  • n. Superficial knowledge; a smattering.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make a noise. Songs and Carols (ed. Wright), No. lxxii.
  • To talk superficially or ignorantly.
  • To have a slight or superficial knowledge.
  • To talk ignorantly or superficially about; use in conversation or quote in a superficial manner.
  • To get a superficial knowledge of.
  • To taste slightly.
  • n. Slight or superficial knowledge; a smattering.

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

  • v. to talk foolishly
  • v. work with in an amateurish manner
  • v. speak with spotty or superficial knowledge

Etymologies

Middle English smateren, to make dirty, speak foolishly, chatter.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English smateren. Compare Swedish smattra, Danish and Norwegian smadre (all of which mean to patter), German schmettern ("to resound"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • a superficial "smatter" of knowledge concerning many.

    The Girl Wanted

  • Beware magazine images showing squishy, sofa-style furniture – those piles of cushions have to be lugged indoors whenever there's a smatter of rain, then stored somewhere.

    Homes: Big ideas for small backyards

  • Shopkeepers board up their windows, plastic bags tumble across the road, a few warning drops smatter the ground foreshadowing the deluge sure to follow.

    First Rains « Cameroon

  • This should serve as a preview for the ridiculousness that Republicans are going to smatter us with this election season.

    Obama beats back criticism over head of VP search

  • Occasionally he would do a rewrite in reported speech to present a smatter of variety.

    A Small Death in the Great Glen

  • She knew how to do things and make things and even her good looks were competent, a straightforward sort of ableness, open and clear-eyed, with a smatter of fading freckles and a dirty-minded smile.

    Underworld

  • Several smatter also crowd the bridge keeping an eye out.

    CNN Transcript Jul 21, 2008

  • I just smatter on as much as I want and then stoke the fire up to near heatstroke levels.

    Archive 2007-02-01

  • But when he finished speaking, there was just a smatter of applause outside and there was no walkabout afterwards by the royals, either.

    CNN Transcript Aug 31, 2007

  • Aside from the original blue streak, he had flecks of green and yellow in his hair and a smatter of black across his cheek.

    Untouchable

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