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From Middle English schateren (to scatter, dash), an assibilated form of Middle English scateren ("to scatter"; see scatter), from Old English scaterian, from Proto-Germanic *skat- (to smash, scatter), perhaps ultimately imitative. Cognate with Dutch schateren (to burst out laughing), Low German schateren, Albanian shkatërroj (to destroy, devastate). Doublet of scatter.



A lightglobe shatters after it is shot with a pistol

shatter (third-person singular simple present shatters, present participle shattering, simple past and past participle shattered)

  1. (transitive) To violently break something into pieces.
    The miners used dynamite to shatter rocks.
    a high-pitched voice that could shatter glass
    The old oak tree has been shattered by lightning.
  2. (transitive) To destroy or disable something.
  3. (intransitive) To smash, or break into tiny pieces.
  4. (transitive) To dispirit or emotionally defeat.
    to be shattered in intellect; to have shattered hopes, or a shattered constitution
    • 1984, Martyn Burke, The commissar's report,, page 36:
      Your death will shatter him. Which is what I want. Actually, I would prefer to kill him.
    • 1992 June 23, Rose Gradym, “Elvis Cures Teen's Brain Cancer!”, in Weekly World News, volume 13, number 38, page 41:
      A CAT scan revealed she had an inoperable brain tumor. The news shattered Michele's mother.
    • 2006, A. W. Maldonado, Luis Muñoz Marín: Puerto Rico's democratic revolution,, page 163:
      The marriage, of course, was long broken but Munoz knew that asking her for a divorce would shatter her.
    • 1687, John Norris, Of Seriousness:
      a man of a loose, volatile, and shatter'd humour
  5. (intransitive, agriculture) Of seeds: to be dispersed upon ripening.
    • 1961, Yearbook of Agriculture, page 175:
      Harvesting is done much as with alfalfa, but alsike seed is small and shatters if it is not handled carefully.
  6. (obsolete) To scatter about.

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shatter (countable and uncountable, plural shatters)

  1. (countable, archaic) A fragment of anything shattered.
    to break a glass into shatters
  2. A (pine) needle.
    Synonym: shat (Maryland, Delaware)
    • 1834, The Southern Agriculturist and Register of Rural Affairs: Adapted to the Southern Section of the United States, page 421:
      My usual habit is, as soon as I get my wheat trodden out, and my corn secured in the fall, to litter my farm yard (and if my cultivation is far off, I select some warm spot near the field) with leaves and pine shatters, (preferring the former) ...
    • 1859, Samuel W. Cole, The New England Farmer, page 277:
      They are preserved in cellars, or out of doors in kilns. The method of fixing them is to raise the ground a few inches, where they are to be placed, and cover with pine shatters to the depth of six inches or more.
    • 2012, Marguerite Henry, Sea Star: Orphan of Chincoteague, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 95:
      Grandpa snapped his fingers. "Consarn it all!" he sputtered. "I plumb forgot the pine shatters. Paul and Maureen, you gather some nice smelly pine shatters from off 'n the floor of the woods. Nothin' makes a better cushion for pony feet as pine shatters ..."
  3. (uncountable, slang) A form of concentrated cannabis.

Derived terms[edit]