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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 ?
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.
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.
Elizabeth Russell was a nice, clever little critter, and Mrs.
These critters ain't like white folks, you know; they gets over things, only manage right.
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.
I like Oz better than Kansas, even; an' this little wood Sawhorse beats all the critters I ever saw.
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.
With a few tricks, you can easily take back your garden and win the war against critters.
LUCKY youngsters from across Tyneside have been getting up-close and personal with a creepy collection of crawly critters.
When the first book, "Visit Dad and Mom at Work," was published in 2007, he had already completed 28 Bugville Critters books.
But I'd like to focus on the much smaller critters that somehow, and often inexplicably, have managed to get inside our house over the years--mice, frogs, potato bugs, flies, fleas, mosquitoes, you name it--and what we have done about them (if anything).