verb (used with object)
- to stifle or suffocate, as by smoke or other means of preventing free breathing.
- to extinguish or deaden (fire, coals, etc.) by covering so as to exclude air.
- to cover closely or thickly; envelop: to smother a steak with mushrooms.
- to suppress or repress: to smother feelings.
- Cookery. to steam (food) slowly in a heavy, tightly closed vessel with a minimum of liquid: smothered chicken and onions.
verb (used without object)
- to become stifled or suffocated; be prevented from breathing.
- to be stifled; be suppressed or concealed.
- dense, stifling smoke.
- a smoking or smoldering state, as of burning matter.
- dust, fog, spray, etc., in a dense or enveloping cloud.
- an overspreading profusion of anything: a smother of papers.
- to suffocate or stifle by cutting off or being cut off from the air
- (tr) to surround (with) or envelop (in)he smothered her with love
- (tr) to extinguish (a fire) by covering so as to cut it off from the air
- to be or cause to be suppressed or stifledsmother a giggle
- (tr) to cook or serve (food) thickly covered with sauce, etc
- anything, such as a cloud of smoke, that stifles
- a profusion or turmoil
- archaic a state of smouldering or a smouldering fire
c.1200, “to suffocate with smoke,” from smother (n.), earlier smorthre “dense, suffocating smoke” (late 12c.), from stem of Old English smorian “to suffocate, choke, strangle, stifle,” cognate with Middle Dutch smoren, German schmoren; possibly connected to smolder. Meaning “to kill by suffocation in any manner” is from 1540s; sense of “to extinguish a fire” is from 1590s. Sense of “stifle, repress” is first recorded 1570s; meaning “to cover thickly (with some substance)” is from 1590s. Related: Smothered; smothering.