di·​as·​po·​ra dī-ˈa-sp(ə-)rə How to pronounce diaspora (audio)
capitalized, Judaism
: the Jews living outside Palestine or modern Israel
members of the Diaspora
: the settling of scattered colonies of Jews outside ancient Palestine after the Babylonian exile
: the area outside ancient Palestine settled by Jews
: people settled far from their ancestral homelands
members of the African diaspora
: the place where these people live
: the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland
the black diaspora to northern cities
diasporic adjective

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The Beginnings of the Word Diaspora

Until recently diaspora was thought to be a fairly new word in English to describe a very old thing (its first, and principal, meaning relates to the settling of the Jewish people outside of Palestine after the Babylonian exile thousands of years ago). However, recent research has found that the word is quite a bit older than previously thought. It can be found as far back as 1594, in a translation of Lambert Daneau’s A Fruitfull Commentarie vpon the Twelue Small Prophets: “This scattering abrode of the Iewes, as it were an heauenly sowing, fell out after their returne from the captiuitie of Babylon … they are called Diaspora, that is, a scattering or sowing abrode.” Diaspora is descended from the Greek word diaspeirein, meaning “to scatter, spread about.”

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web While the Asian diaspora can no longer be denied in American popular culture, Filipinas and Filipinos remain woefully outside the spotlight. Chris Willman, Variety, 12 Jan. 2023 The holiday is one of the biggest celebrations across Asia and the Asian diaspora, and represents new beginnings and the renewal of good health, happiness, and fortune. Leah Campano, Seventeen, 11 Jan. 2023 Lunar New Year, commonly known as Chinese New Year, is a 15-day spring celebration often considered the most important holiday in many Asian countries and across the Asian diaspora, as well as in China. Minhae Shim Roth, Good Housekeeping, 1 Dec. 2022 Over the past decade, as the Asian diaspora grew in North America, calls to reclaim the swastika as a sacred symbol became louder. Arkansas Online, 28 Nov. 2022 Over the past decade, as the Asian diaspora grew in North America, calls to reclaim the swastika as a sacred symbol became louder. Deepa Bharath, BostonGlobe.com, 27 Nov. 2022 Over the past decade, as the Asian diaspora has grown in North America, the call to reclaim the swastika as a sacred symbol has become louder. Deepa Bharath, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Nov. 2022 But the annual family gathering played a huge role when Day was penning her award-winning screenplay that celebrates the South Asian diaspora. Deanna Janes, Harper's BAZAAR, 4 Nov. 2022 During the five days of Diwali, individuals across the South Asian diaspora come together for moments of prayer, gift-giving and family gatherings. Lyndsay C. Green, Detroit Free Press, 26 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'diaspora.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Greek, dispersion, from diaspeirein to scatter, from dia- + speirein to sow

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of diaspora was in 1594

Dictionary Entries Near diaspora

Cite this Entry

“Diaspora.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diaspora. Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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