Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To spit out or spray particles of saliva or food from the mouth in noisy bursts.
  • intransitive verb To spit out words or sounds in an excited or confused manner.
  • intransitive verb To make sporadic spitting or popping sounds.
  • intransitive verb Physics To cause the atoms of a solid to be removed from the surface by bombardment with atoms in a discharge tube.
  • intransitive verb To eject in short bursts with spitting or popping sounds.
  • intransitive verb To utter in an excited or confused manner.
  • intransitive verb Physics To coat (a solid surface) with metal atoms by sputtering.
  • noun The act or sound of sputtering.
  • noun Matter emitted in sputtering.
  • noun Excited or confused utterance.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The act of sputtering.
  • noun That which is thrown off or ejected in sputtering.
  • noun The noise made by a person who or a thing which sputters; hence, bustle; ado; excited talk; squabble.
  • To spit, or eject saliva from the mouth in small or scattered bits; hence, to throw out moisture in small detached parts and with small explosions; emit small particles, as of grease, soot, etc., with some crackling or noise.
  • To speak so rapidly and vehemently as to seem to spit out the words, as in excitement or anger.
  • To emit forcibly in small or scattered portions, as saliva, flame, etc.; spit out noisily.
  • To emit in small particles or amounts with slight explosions: as, the candle sputters smoke; a green stick sputters out steam.
  • To utter rapidly and with indistinctness; jabber.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To spit, or to emit saliva from the mouth in small, scattered portions, as in rapid speaking.
  • intransitive verb To utter words hastily and indistinctly; to speak so rapidly as to emit saliva.
  • intransitive verb To throw out anything, as little jets of steam, with a noise like that made by one sputtering.
  • transitive verb To spit out hastily by quick, successive efforts, with a spluttering sound; to utter hastily and confusedly, without control over the organs of speech.
  • noun Moist matter thrown out in small detached particles; also, confused and hasty speech.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Moist matter thrown out in small detached particles; also, confused and hasty speech.
  • verb To spit, or to emit saliva from the mouth in small, scattered portions, as in rapid speaking.
  • verb To utter words hastily and indistinctly; to speak so rapidly as to emit saliva.
  • verb To throw out anything, as little jets of steam, with a noise like that made by one sputtering.
  • verb transitive To spit out hastily by quick, successive efforts, with a spluttering sound; to utter hastily and confusedly, without control over the organs of speech.
  • verb physics (intransitive) To cause surface atoms or electrons of a solid to be ejected by bombarding it with heavy atoms or ions
  • verb physics (transitive) To coat the surface of an object by sputtering

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

  • noun the noise of something spattering or sputtering explosively
  • noun an utterance (of words) with spitting sounds (as in rage)
  • verb spit up in an explosive manner
  • verb climb awkwardly, as if by scrambling
  • verb cause to undergo a process in which atoms are removed
  • verb utter with a spitting sound, as if in a rage
  • verb make an explosive sound

Etymologies

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

[Probably of Low German origin; akin to Dutch sputteren.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Probably representing Middle English *sputren, *sputrien, a frequentative form of sputen ("to spout, vomit"), equivalent to spout +‎ -er. Cognate with Eastern Frisian spüttern ("to inject, spray, splash"), West Frisian sputterje ("to sputter"), Dutch sputteren ("to sputter"), Low German sputtern, spruttern ("to sprinkle"), German sprudeln ("to spout, squirt"). Compare splutter.

Examples

  • Sputter deposition is an industrial process used since the 1970s to spray -- sputter, that is -- thin films onto various backings, like the metallic coating on potato chip bags, the reflective surface on DVDs, or the electronics on computer chips.

    R&D Mag - News

  • Sputter deposition is an industrial process used since the 1970s to spray -- sputter, that is -- thin films onto various backings, like the metallic coating on potato chip bags, the reflective surface on DVDs, or the electronics on computer chips.

    PhysOrg.com - latest science and technology news stories

  • We had some good drives, but then we'd get down to the red zone and kind of sputter out, '' Carr said.

    USATODAY.com - Football - Pittsburgh vs. Carolina

  • Knowing the poor Irish girl's weak side (her quick temper), Oscar had for some time taxed his ingenuity to torment her, for the sake of hearing her "sputter," as he termed it.

    Oscar The Boy Who Had His Own Way

  • AT&T's growth will "sputter" without the iPhone as a guaranteed draw, says Moffett.

    MacNN | The Macintosh News Network

  • T's growth will "sputter" without the iPhone as a guaranteed draw, says Moffett.

    MacNN | The Macintosh News Network

  • T's growth will "sputter" without the iPhone as a guaranteed draw, says Moffett.

    MacNN | The Macintosh News Network

  • AT&T's growth will "sputter" without the iPhone as a guaranteed draw, says Moffett.

    MacNN | The Macintosh News Network

  • If you ask the president how he's changed, he'd probably "do one of those man noises - kind of sputter - and shrug his shoulders," said Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, his former top domestic policy adviser and an old friend from Texas.

    News for Lynchburg News Advance

  • This makes them 'sputter' with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction. "

    The Vast Left-Wing Media Conspiracy

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