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[skwot-er] /ˈskwɒt ər/
a person or thing that squats.
a person who settles on land or occupies property without title, right, or payment of rent.
a person who settles on land under government regulation, in order to acquire title.
1775-85; squat + -er1
Related forms
squatterdom, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for squatters
  • Patent squatters sit on obscure patents and wait for someone else to spend the money to develop the idea and then they pounce.
  • Often the landowner doesn't act quickly enough or the police fail to drive out the squatters.
  • The territory was little more than a voluntary internment camp, a sinkhole for foreign relief, covered in squatters' shantytowns.
  • The squatters stayed, and a community grew up around them.
  • Stubbornly, they cling to their lots, virtual squatters on their own property.
  • Some squatters dug them up and burned them, hoping to avoid a scientific excavation that would delay town development.
  • squatters and poachers may come in and kills animals despite the designation of these areas as parks.
  • Meanwhile, landless squatters moved in from adjacent lots, working plots whose ownership the government failed to resolve.
  • The squatters gasp, swear again, and laugh at themselves.
  • Without strong forestry policies, squatters will invade forest land and poachers will log at the edges.
British Dictionary definitions for squatters


a person who occupies property or land to which he has no legal title
(in Australia)
  1. (formerly) a person who occupied a tract of land, esp pastoral land, as tenant of the Crown
  2. a farmer of sheep or cattle on a large scale
(in New Zealand) a 19th-century settler who took up large acreage on a Crown lease
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for squatters



"settler who occupies land without legal title," 1788, agent noun from squat (v.); in reference to paupers or homeless people in uninhabited buildings, it is recorded from 1880.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for squatters


in 19th-century Australian history, an illegal occupier of crown grazing land beyond the prescribed limits of settlement. The inroad of squatters contributed to the growth of the country's wool industry and to the development of a powerful social class in Australian life. By the late 1840s the authorities recognized the economic good derived from the squatters' activity and issued them leases for their sheep runs and tenure extending as long as 14 years. By this time the squatters had a hold on the land; many had become wealthy grandees.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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