verb (used with object)

  1. to break (something) into pieces, as by a blow.
  2. to damage, as by breaking or crushing: ships shattered by storms.
  3. to impair or destroy (health, nerves, etc.): The incident shattered his composure.
  4. to weaken, destroy, or refute (ideas, opinions, etc.): He wanted to shatter her illusions.

verb (used without object)

  1. to be broken into fragments or become weak or insubstantial.


  1. Usually shatters. fragments made by shattering.


  1. to break or be broken into many small pieces
  2. (tr) to impair or destroyhis nerves were shattered by the torture
  3. (tr) to dumbfound or thoroughly upsetshe was shattered by the news
  4. (tr) informal to cause to be tired out or exhausted
  5. an obsolete word for scatter


  1. (usually plural) obsolete, or dialect a fragment

v.early 14c., transitive, probably a variant of Middle English scateren (see scatter (v.)). Cf. Old Dutch schetteren Low German schateren. Formations such as scatter-brained had parallel forms in shatter-brained, etc. Intransitive sense from 1560s. Related: Shattered; shattering. Carlyle (1841) used shatterment. Shatters “fragments” is from 1630s.

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