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early 14c., transitive, probably a variant of Middle English scateren (see scatter (v.)). Cf. Old Dutch schetteren Low German schateren. Formations such as scatter-brained had parallel forms in shatter-brained, etc. Intransitive sense from 1560s. Related: Shattered; shattering. Carlyle (1841) used shatterment. Shatters "fragments" is from 1630s.