AskDefine | Define patter

Dictionary Definition



1 plausible glib talk (especially useful to a salesperson) [syn: spiel, line of gab]
2 a quick succession of light rapid sounds; "the patter of mice"; "the patter of tiny feet"


1 rain gently; "It has only sprinkled, but the roads are slick" [syn: sprinkle, spit, spatter, pitter-patter]
2 make light, rapid and repeated sounds; "gently pattering rain" [syn: pitter-patter]

User Contributed Dictionary






  1. The soft sound of feet walking on a hard surface.
    I could hear the patter of the burglar, so I hid in the linen closet.
  2. One who pats.
  3. Glib and rapid speech, such as from an auctioneer, or banter during a sports event.

Derived terms


  1. To make irregularly repeated sounds of low-to-moderate magnitude and lower-than-average pitch.
    The bullets pattered in the log-cabin walls.

Extensive Definition

Patter is a glib rapid speech, that accompanies and complements some actions, e.g., of an auctioneer, salesperson, caller (dancing), or comedian.
It was a slang word for the secret or cant language used by beggars, thieves, Roma people, etc., hence the fluent plausible talk that a cheap-jack employs to pass off his goods. Many illusionists, e.g., card magicians use patter both to enhance the show and to distract the attention of the spectators.
It is thus used of any rapid manner of talking, and of a patter-song, in which a very large number of words have to be sung at high speed to fit them to the music. The word, though in some of its senses affected by "patter", to make a series of rapid strokes or pats, as of raindrops, is derived from the way of quick and mechanical mumbling of prayers and is the colloquial shortening of "Pater Noster".
In certain forms of entertainment, peep shows (in the historical meaning) and Russian rayok, patter is an important component of a show. The radio DJ patter is among the roots of rapping.
In hypnotherapy, the hypnotist uses a 'patter' or script to deliver positive suggestions for change to the client.
During this year's MTV Movie Awards, writer Kip Madsen invented a method of writing presenter patter known as the Madsen Method.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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