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Etymology 1[edit]

From Old English ūtera, comparative of ūt (out); compare outer.


utter (not comparable)

  1. (now poetic, literary) Outer; furthest out, most remote. [from 10th c.]
    • Chapman
      By him a shirt and utter mantle laid.
    • Spenser
      As doth an hidden moth / The inner garment fret, not th' utter touch.
    • Milton
      Through utter and through middle darkness borne.
  2. (obsolete) Outward. [13th–16th c.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Matthew XXIII:
      Wo be to you scrybes and pharises ypocrites, for ye make clene the utter side off the cuppe, and off the platter: but within they are full of brybery and excesse.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, IV.10:
      So forth without impediment I past, / Till to the Bridges utter gate I came [] .
  3. Absolute, unconditional, total, complete. [from 15th c.]
    utter ruin; utter darkness
    • Atterbury
      They [] are utter strangers to all those anxious thoughts which disquiet mankind.
    • 1920, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thuvia, Maiden of Mars[1], edition HTML, The Gutenberg Project, published 2008:
      His eyes could not penetrate the darkness even to the distinguishing of his hand before his face, while the banths, he knew, could see quite well, though absence of light were utter.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Partly from out (adverb/verb), partly from Middle Dutch uteren.


utter (third-person singular simple present utters, present participle uttering, simple past and past participle uttered)

  1. (transitive) To say
    Don't you utter another word!
  2. (transitive) To use the voice
    Sally uttered a sigh of relief.
    The dog uttered a growling bark.
  3. (transitive) To make speech sounds which may or may not have an actual language involved
    Sally is uttering some fairly strange things in her illness.
  4. (transitive) To make (a noise)
    Sally's car uttered a hideous shriek when she applied the brakes.
  5. (law, transitive) To put counterfeit money, etc., into circulation
Derived terms[edit]
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Etymology 3[edit]

Old English ūtor, comparative of ūt (out).


utter (comparative more utter, superlative most utter)

  1. (obsolete) Further out; further away, outside.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, Bk.VII, Ch.v:
      So whan he com nyghe to hir, she bade hym ryde uttir—‘for thou smellyst all of the kychyn.’



From Old Norse otr.


utter c

  1. otter; a mammal of the family Mustelidae