v. sput·tered, sput·ter·ing, sput·ters
1. To spit out or spray particles of saliva or food from the mouth in noisy bursts.
2. To spit out words or sounds in an excited or confused manner.
3. To make sporadic spitting or popping sounds: The fire sputtered and died.
4. Physics To cause the atoms of a solid to be removed from the surface by bombardment with atoms in a discharge tube.
1. To eject in short bursts with spitting or popping sounds.
2. To utter in an excited or confused manner.
3. Physics To coat (a solid surface) with metal atoms by sputtering.
1. The act or sound of sputtering.
2. Matter emitted in sputtering.
3. Excited or confused utterance.
[Probably of Low German origin; akin to Dutch sputteren.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.