Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To make repeated or sporadic spitting sounds.
  • intransitive v. To speak hastily and incoherently, as when confused or angry.
  • transitive v. To utter or express hastily and incoherently.
  • n. A spluttering noise.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to spray droplets while speaking
  • v. to speak hurriedly and confusedly
  • v. to perform to a substandard level

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To speak hastily and confusedly; to sputter.
  • n. A confused noise, as of hasty speaking.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To sputter.
  • To talk hastily and confusedly.
  • To utter confusedly or indistinctly, as through haste, excitement, embarrassment, or the like: often with out or forth: as, to splutter out an apology.
  • n. Bustle; stir; commotion.

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

  • v. utter with a spitting sound, as if in a rage
  • v. spit up in an explosive manner
  • n. the noise of something spattering or sputtering explosively
  • n. an utterance (of words) with spitting sounds (as in rage)

Etymologies

Perhaps alteration of sputter.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From a variant of sputter (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Draught horses are led around the smaller ring, and nearby dozens of stationary engines chuff, splutter and bounce on individual pitches.

    Country diary: Stithians, Cornwall

  • Jeffrey sez, We're getting more and more excellent panoramic photographers uploading their spherical panoramas to our site - but this one made me splutter with delight.

    Boing Boing

  • A minute later the splutter of an exhaust told them the silencer had been taken off.

    WHOSE BUSINESS IS TO LIVE

  • If they dont splutter over their retraction at this point, then they would more likely be at home being a patient of a mental ward rather than managing one. on July 7, 2009 at 11: 08 am grim rupert

    Criminals Insist On Being Naughty SHOCK! « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

  • An unexpected beat on a snare drum made a French horn splutter out a belching sound, and in the back of the band something big emitted a snort, one that made Lisa think of a blue whale that had just surfaced after a week underwater.

    Bubble in the Bathtub

  • It is of a monster enterprise monstering itself, of a family that can't get a grip – on itself or dad; of a dynasty falling apart as shareholders splutter and investors turned chicken cross the road.

    News Corp saga is gripping: let's soak up the family drama

  • The recording itself is thrilling, if warts-and-all, with Pappano singing along, while the audience cough and splutter between movements.

    Mahler: Symphony No 6 – review

  • "This isn't reality TV!" they splutter, settling in for 60 solid minutes watching a woman fake-tanned the shade of a third-degree burn glueing diamante craft beads on to her vagina.

    Grace Dent's TV OD

  • Just ignore that part and splutter on about how calling something socialist that appears to be socialist is somehow over thetop.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » The Rhetoric of Opposition

  • The party's birthday is being celebrated at what seems a moment of triumph in all these categories: China has never been richer or more engaged in the world; investment in science and technology is sky high; the economy is booming while others splutter.

    China's Confucian makeover | Isabel Hilton

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