Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


to repeat the sounds of words in an uncontrolled way when you speak because you are nervous or have a speech problem

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The verb stutter was first used in English in the late 16th century and is related to similar words in other Germanic languages. It comes from the earlier verb ‘stut’ which also meant to stutter and dates from the 14th century. The noun stutter is much later, being first recorded in the 19th century.


Today is International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD). The purpose of ISAD is to raise public awareness of the one percent of the world’s population who have the speech disorder of stuttering. Someone who stutters generally repeats certain sounds in an uncontrolled way when speaking, and sometimes is unable to produce sounds at all for short periods. A person who stutters is said to have a stutter; the terms stammer (noun and verb) are also used and are slightly less frequent. Stuttering generally begins in childhood and continues into adulthood and its causes are complex and unclear, although understanding is growing all the time. The verb stutter is also used figuratively to refer to something such as a machine that does not work smoothly.


Stuttering is painful. In Sunday school, I’d try to read my lessons, and the children behind me were falling on the floor with laughter.”
(James Earl Jones)

Related words

articulate, enunciate, pronounce

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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