sputtered; sputtering; sputters
When someone (or something) makes a soft, fast popping sound, they sputter. If you expect to win first prize in a poetry contest but don't, you might sputter, "But...but..."
When you sputter, you're often angry, surprised, or otherwise at a loss for words. You may sputter incoherent sounds, or short syllables. When you start up your dirt bike, its engine sputters too, with muted exploding sounds. This word is also a noun: "The sputter from out on the lake told me he got the old motorboat going." In physics, to sputter is to send high-energy particles onto a material, dislodging tiny particles from its surface.
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