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n. Informal
1. A living creature.
2. A domestic animal, especially a cow, horse, or mule.
3. A person.

[Alteration of creature.]
Word History: In many American regional dialects, the word bull, meaning "adult male bovine," was once highly taboo. When speaking in mixed company, people would substitute a variety of words and call the bull a booman, brute, gentleman cow, or surly. In the Northeast in particular, critter was a common word used to avoid saying bull, both by itself and in combinations like beef critter and cross critter. The most common meaning of critter is "a living creature," whether wild or domestic; it also can mean "a child" when used as a term of sympathetic endearment, or it can mean "an unfortunate person." But in old-fashioned speech, critter and beast denoted a large domestic animal. The more restricted senses "a cow," "a horse," or "a mule" are still characteristic of the speech in specific regions of the United States. Critter itself originates as a dialectal variant of creature, but owing to the pronunciation spelling critter, the term has taken on something of a life of its own as a separate word. The American regional word also has its own variants, including creeter and cretter. In some ways, the pronunciation of critter would have been very familiar to Shakespeare: 16th- and 17th-century English had not yet begun to pronounce the -ture suffix with its modern (ch) sound. This archaic pronunciation survives not only in American critter, but also in Irish English creature, pronounced (krā′tŭr) and used in the same senses as the American word.


US and Canadian a dialect word for creature


(ˈkrɪt ər)

n. Dial.
1. a domesticated animal.
2. any creature.
[1815–20; variant of creature]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.critter - a regional term for `creature' (especially for domestic animals)critter - a regional term for `creature' (especially for domestic animals)
animal, animate being, beast, creature, fauna, brute - a living organism characterized by voluntary movement


[ˈkrɪtər] (US) n (= creature) → créature f
References in classic literature ?
I had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to Orleans--'t was as good as a meetin, now, really, to hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and quiet like.
These critters ain't like white folks, you know; they gets over things, only manage right.
You got me now, but that hunch is a rip-snorter persuadin' sort of a critter, and it's my plain duty to ride it.
Elizabeth Russell was a nice, clever little critter, and Mrs.
Most of them were clever, drunken critters who taught the children the three R's when they were sober, and lambasted them when they wasn't.
I like Oz better than Kansas, even; an' this little wood Sawhorse beats all the critters I ever saw.
There, that'll fix you fool critters," Bill said with satisfaction that night, standing erect at completion of his task.
Takes more'n a handful of them pesky critters to do for yours truly, Bill, my son.
The beloved characters, gentle humor, and solid family values emphasized in Mercer's Little Critter book series remain the same, and now kids can extend that book experience by engaging with the characters and story in ways that they could not have before.
1 -- color) Mountain lions and other critters are expected to be out in force in coming weeks.
Continuing a tradition of corporate philanthropy started in 2008, Michigan Critter Catchers - an OBC partner - is donating $3,500 in 2013 to fund a grant enabling OBC staff to host 14 events at various nature centers in five counties across Michigan.
The series will cover areas of behavior, character building and life lessons in humorous, entertaining and comforting ways only the world-famous and best-selling Little Critter character could share and emulate.