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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.
Origin of squatter
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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