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From Middle English clatren (to make a rattling sound), from Old English *clatrian (attested as the Late Old English gerund clatrung), of onomatopoeic origin.

The noun, derived from the verb, is first attested in the 14th century.



clatter (third-person singular simple present clatters, present participle clattering, simple past and past participle clattered)

  1. (intransitive) To make a rattling sound.
    • 1906, Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman:
      Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
      And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
      He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
      But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
      Bess, the landlord's daughter,
      Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.
  2. (transitive) To cause to make a rattling noise.
    • (Can we date this quote by Jonathan Swift and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      You clatter still your brazen kettle.
    • 1883, Howard Pyle, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Chapter V:
      When he came to Nottingham, he entered that part of the market where butchers stood, and took up his inn(2) in the best place he could find. Next, he opened his stall and spread his meat upon the bench, then, taking his cleaver and steel and clattering them together, he trolled aloud in merry tones:...
  3. (intransitive) To chatter noisily or rapidly.
    • (Can we date this quote by Spenser and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      I see thou dost but clatter.
  4. (Northern England) To hit; to smack.
    • 1988, Harry Enfield, Friday Night Live:
      "I can't watch it because I have to go outside and clatter someone in the nuts!”
    • 2010, Gerald Hansen, Hand in the Till:
      “An Orange bitch clattered seven shades of shite out of her,” Padraig eagerly piped up.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


clatter (plural clatters)

  1. A rattling noise; a repetition of abrupt, sharp sounds.
    • 1907, Harold Bindloss, chapter 7, in The Dust of Conflict[1]:
      The patter of feet, and clatter of strap and swivel, seemed to swell into a bewildering din, but they were almost upon the fielato offices, where the carretera entered the town, before a rifle flashed.
    • 2017 June 26, Alexis Petridis, “Glastonbury 2017 verdict: Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Lorde, Stormzy and more”, in the Guardian[2]:
      There was something distinctly low-key, even wilfully alienating about the band’s performance. A scattering of OK Computer tracks were interspersed with more abstract latterday material – the clatter of 15 Step and Myxamatosis.
  2. A loud disturbance.
  3. Noisy talk or chatter.


Derived terms[edit]


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