verb (used without object)

  1. to talk rapidly in a foolish or purposeless way; jabber.
  2. to utter a succession of quick, inarticulate, speechlike sounds, as monkeys or certain birds.
  3. to make a rapid clicking noise by striking together: His teeth were chattering from the cold.
  4. Machinery. (of a cutting tool or piece of metal) to vibrate during cutting so as to produce surface flaws on the work.

verb (used with object)

  1. to utter rapidly or purposelessly.
  2. to cause to chatter, as the teeth from cold.


  1. purposeless or foolish talk.
  2. a series of waves or ridges on the surface of a piece of metal that has been imperfectly drawn or extruded.
  3. the act or sound of chattering.
  4. online, phone, radio, or other electronic communication among people, often involving a harmful political activity such as espionage or terrorism: Officials were able to intercept and identify a high level of terrorist chatter in the weeks before the bombing attempt.


  1. to speak (about unimportant matters) rapidly and incessantly; prattle
  2. (intr) (of birds, monkeys, etc) to make rapid repetitive high-pitched noises resembling human speech
  3. (intr) (of the teeth) to click together rapidly through cold or fear
  4. (intr) to make rapid intermittent contact with a component, as in machining, causing irregular cutting


  1. idle or foolish talk; gossip
  2. the high-pitched repetitive noise made by a bird, monkey, etc
  3. the rattling of objects, such as parts of a machine
  4. Also called: chatter mark the undulating pattern of marks in a machined surface from the vibration of the tool or workpiece

mid-13c., originally of birds, from chatter (v.).


early 13c., chateren “to twitter, gossip,” earlier cheateren, chiteren, of echoic origin. Cf. Dutch koeteren “jabber,” Danish kvidre “twitter, chirp.” Related: Chattered; chattering. Phrase chattering class in use by 1893, with a reference perhaps from 1843:

Such was the most interesting side of the fatal event to that idle chattering class of London life to whom the collision of heaven and earth were important only as affording matter for “news!” [Catherine Grace F. Gore (“Mrs. Gore”), “The Banker’s Wife,” 1843]

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