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.

Definitions of sputter
  1. verb
    spit up in an explosive manner
    synonyms: spit out, splutter
    see moresee less
    type of:
    cough out, cough up, expectorate, spit out, spit up
    discharge (phlegm or sputum) from the lungs and out of the mouth
  2. verb
    utter with a spitting sound, as if in a rage
    synonyms: splutter
    see moresee less
    type of:
    emit, let loose, let out, utter
    express audibly; utter sounds (not necessarily words)
  3. verb
    make an explosive sound
    “sputter ing engines”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    make a sharp explosive noise
  4. verb
    climb awkwardly, as if by scrambling
    synonyms: clamber, scramble, shin, shinny, skin, struggle
    see moresee less
    type of:
    move with difficulty, by grasping
  5. verb
    cause to undergo a process in which atoms are removed
    “The solar wind protons must sputter away the surface atoms of the dust”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  6. noun
    the noise of something spattering or sputtering explosively
    synonyms: spatter, spattering, splatter, splattering, splutter, sputtering
    see moresee less
    type of:
    sound of any kind (especially unintelligible or dissonant sound)
  7. noun
    an utterance (of words) with spitting sounds (as in rage)
    synonyms: splutter
    see moresee less
    type of:
    utterance, vocalization
    the use of uttered sounds for auditory communication
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘sputter'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up sputter for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer