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From Middle English cloteren (to form clots; coagulate; heap on), from clot (clot), equivalent to clot +‎ -er (frequentative suffix). Compare Welsh cludair (heap, pile), cludeirio (to heap).



clutter (countable and uncountable, plural clutters)

  1. (uncountable) A confused disordered jumble of things.
    • L'Estrange
      He saw what a clutter there was with huge, overgrown pots, pans, and spits.
    • 2013 May-June, William E. Conner, “An Acoustic Arms Race”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 206-7:
      Nonetheless, some insect prey take advantage of clutter by hiding in it. Earless ghost swift moths become “invisible” to echolocating bats by forming mating clusters close (less than half a meter) above vegetation and effectively blending into the clutter of echoes that the bat receives from the leaves and stems around them.
  2. (uncountable) Background echoes, from clouds etc., on a radar or sonar screen.
  3. (countable) A group of cats; the collective noun for cats.
    • 2008, John Robert Colombo, The Big Book of Canadian Ghost Stories, Introduction
      Organizing ghost stories is like herding a clutter of cats: the phenomenon resists organization and classification.
  4. (obsolete) Clatter; confused noise.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Jonathan Swift to this entry?)
    • 1835, William Cobbett, John Morgan Cobbett, James Paul Cobbett, Selections from Cobbett's political works (volume 1, page 33)
      It was then you might have heard a clutter: pots, pans and pitchers, mugs, jugs and jordens, all put themselves in motion at once []

Derived termsEdit



clutter (third-person singular simple present clutters, present participle cluttering, simple past and past participle cluttered)

  1. To fill something with clutter.
    • 2013 May 25, “No hiding place”, in The Economist[1], volume 407, number 8837, page 74:
      In America alone, people spent $170 billion on “direct marketing”—junk mail of both the physical and electronic varieties—last year. Yet of those who received unsolicited adverts through the post, only 3% bought anything as a result. If the bumf arrived electronically, the take-up rate was 0.1%. And for online adverts the “conversion” into sales was a minuscule 0.01%. That means about $165 billion was spent not on drumming up business, but on annoying people, creating landfill and cluttering spam filters.
  2. (obsolete, intransitive) To clot or coagulate, like blood.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Holland to this entry?)
  3. To make a confused noise; to bustle.
    • Tennyson
      It [the goose] cluttered here, it chuckled there.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for clutter in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)