Patter is a glib rapid speech, that accompanies and complements some actions, e.g., of an auctioneer, salesperson, caller (dancing), or comedian.

It was a slang word for the secret or cant language used by beggars, thieves, Roma people, etc., hence the fluent plausible talk that a cheap-jack employs to pass off his goods. Many illusionists, e.g., card magicians use patter both to enhance the show and to distract the attention of the spectators.

It is thus used of any rapid manner of talking, and of a patter-song, in which a very large number of words have to be sung at high speed to fit them to the music. A western square dance caller may interpolate patter — in the form of metrical lines, often of nonsense — to fill in between commands to the dancers.

The word, though in some of its senses affected by "patter", to make a series of rapid strokes or pats, as of raindrops, is derived from the way of quick and mechanical mumbling of prayers and is the colloquial shortening of "Pater Noster".

In certain forms of entertainment, peep shows (in the historical meaning) and Russian rayok, patter is an important component of a show. The radio DJ patter is among the roots of rapping.

In hypnotherapy, the hypnotist uses a 'patter' or script to deliver positive suggestions for change to the client.

In London Labour and the London Poor, Henry Mayhew divides the street-sellers of his time into two groups: the patterers, and everyone else.

During this year's MTV Movie Awards, writer Kip Madsen invented a method of writing presenter patter known as the Madsen Method.


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