Definition of smother in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsmʌðə/


[with object]
1Kill (someone) by covering their nose and mouth so that they suffocate: a teenage mum tried to smother her baby in hospital
More example sentences
  • Without even asking Desdemona if it is true or not, Othello kills her by smothering her.
  • He told the trial at Reading Crown Court he could find ‘no clear evidence’ to suggest that any of Patel's three babies had been smothered or deliberately suffocated.
  • It was claimed she had smothered baby Christopher at the family's home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and either did the same to Harry or shook him to death.
suffocate, stifle, asphyxiate, choke, throttle, strangle, strangulate
1.1Make (someone) feel trapped and oppressed by acting in an overly protective manner towards them: it’s time for you to leave the house—she’ll smother you if you remain
More example sentences
  • But regardless, now Olivia feels smothered by the overly protective nature of her father's attentions.
  • How I am supposed to suppress my overwhelming urge to smother every guy I become involved with?
  • Darnell's sultriness is smothering and disturbing, elemental in the manner of King Vidor heroines.
overwhelm, inundate, envelop, trap, surround, cocoon
2Extinguish (a fire) by covering it: use a fire blanket to smother a chip-pan fire
More example sentences
  • Extinguish or smother the fire on the drapes with wet towels and water.
  • But once we got some foam to cover the bulk of the fire and smother the flames we were able to bring it under control much quicker.
  • One way to smother a small fire is to cover it with a heavy blanket.
extinguish, put out, snuff out, dampen, damp down, stamp out, douse, choke
2.1Suppress (a feeling or action): she smothered a sigh
More example sentences
  • I had realized he was special then, but I smothered the feeling.
  • Maybe trying to smother your feelings right now is not the healthiest thing for you.
  • ‘the state can sometimes become part of the problem, by smothering the enthusiasm of its citizens’.
stifle, muffle, strangle, gag, restrain, repress, suppress, hold back, keep back, fight back, choke back, bite back, swallow, contain, bottle up, conceal, hide;
bite one's lip
informal button up, keep the lid on, cork up
2.2(In sport) stop the motion of (the ball or a shot): the goalkeeper was able to smother the ball
More example sentences
  • O'Flynn was in again after 18 minutes, but this time Walshe was able to smother his shot at the edge of the penalty area, but it was so close that Bray manager Pat Devlin reacted immediately.
  • The first half passed with few chances for either side, although Martin Taylor in the Wycombe goal distinguished himself by twice dashing out to smother the ball at Owen's feet.
  • He tries to walk the ball into the net in typical Portuguese fashion and Dudek gets down well to smother the ball at his feet.
3 (smother someone/thing in/with) Cover someone or something entirely with: rich orange sorbets smothered in fluffy whipped cream
More example sentences
  • David lowered his mouth onto Trixie's, then smothered her entire face with kisses.
  • When I was asked to cover a Territorial Army competition I jumped at the chance of donning Army fatigues and smothering my face in camouflage paint.
  • In July, crews fighting a blaze in a three-acre manure lagoon at a dairy farm in Washington smothered the flames with more of the same - a blanket of wet cow manure.
smear, daub, bedaub, spread, cover
literary besmear
3.1Cook in a covered container: (as adjective smothered) smothered fried chicken


A mass of something that stifles or obscures: all this vanished in a smother of foam
More example sentences
  • The next morning the sun finally drilled a tunnel through the smother of clouds that squatted on the plain so low I stooped when I got into my Bronco.
  • Live not in continual smother, but take some friends with whom to communicate.


Middle English (as a noun in the sense 'stifling smoke'): from the base of Old English smorian 'suffocate'.

Words that rhyme with smother

another, brother, mother, other, t'other

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: smother

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