dis·​pa·​rate ˈdi-sp(ə-)rət How to pronounce disparate (audio)
-ˈspa-rət How to pronounce disparate (audio)
: markedly distinct in quality or character
: containing or made up of fundamentally different and often incongruous elements
disparately adverb
disparateness noun

Did you know?

If you enjoy sorting different objects into separate categories, you're well prepared to understand the origins of disparate. The word, which first appeared in English in the 16th century, comes from the Latin verb disparāre, meaning "to divide, separate off, make different." Disparāre, in turn, comes from parāre, a verb meaning "to supply, provide, make ready or prepare." Other descendants of parāre in English include both separate and prepare, as well as repair, apparatus, and even the pugnacious vituperate ("to criticize harshly and usually publicly").

Choose the Right Synonym for disparate

different, diverse, divergent, disparate, various mean unlike in kind or character.

different may imply little more than separateness but it may also imply contrast or contrariness.

different foods

diverse implies both distinctness and marked contrast.

such diverse interests as dancing and football

divergent implies movement away from each other and unlikelihood of ultimate meeting or reconciliation.

went on to pursue divergent careers

disparate emphasizes incongruity or incompatibility.

disparate notions of freedom

various stresses the number of sorts or kinds.

tried various methods

Examples of disparate in a Sentence

First during the nineteen-seventies, but with increasing momentum during the eighties, a loose community of physics researchers had begun to postulate that the disparate small particles that we learned about in high-school science class—electrons, for instance—were actually the varied vibrations of tiny open and closed looped strings. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New Yorker, 21 July 2008
The American border with Mexico is among the most economically disparate intersections in the world, but the cities on either side of the port looked almost identical—a spread of humble brick and cinder-block homes dotting a blanket of brown hills. Cecilia Balli, Harper's, October 2006
I made the French lemon cream tart that Greenspan credits to Hermé and got disparate reactions. An American friend loved its creaminess and felt it had a comfortingly familiar texture; a British friend … said he missed the traditional sharp, gel-like custard. Tamasin Day-Lewis, Saveur, November 2006
Like these imagined cities, identical twins are identical only in their blueprints. By the time they are born, they are already disparate in countless neurological and physiological ways that mostly we cannot see. Frank J. Sulloway, New York Review, 30 Nov. 2006
The plan, as near as anybody outside Yahoo can make out, is to stitch all those disparate organizations into one huge Frankenstein's monster of a search engine that will strike terror into the hearts of all who behold it. Lev Grossman, Time, 22 Dec. 2003
disparate notions among adults and adolescents about when middle age begins
Recent Examples on the Web The net worths of the candidates might be disparate, but the value of their campaigns undoubtedly favored Biden. Max Thornberry, Washington Examiner - Political News and Conservative Analysis About Congress, the President, and the Federal Government, 12 July 2024 Most people’s jobs involve too many disparate, complex tasks and workflows to be easily automated away by AI. Will Daniel, Fortune, 25 June 2024 Saban and Glynn-Carney deliver two outstanding performances, each with a unique and disparate approach to their character’s anguish and and how to even begin moving forward. Proma Khosla, IndieWire, 23 June 2024 Their disparate lives seem parallel at first, but when Maddie becomes fixated on Cleo’s mystifying death, a chasm opens that puts everyone around them in danger. Emily Zemler, Rolling Stone, 18 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for disparate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disparate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin disparātus "separate, distinct," from past participle of disparāre "to divide, separate off, make different," from dis- dis- + parāre "to supply, provide, make ready" (influenced in sense by association with dispar-, dispār "unequal, different") — more at pare

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of disparate was in 1566


Dictionary Entries Near disparate

Cite this Entry

“Disparate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disparate. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: very different : unique in quality or character
disparately adverb
disparateness noun

Medical Definition


dis·​pa·​rate dis-ˈpar-ət How to pronounce disparate (audio) ˈdis-p(ə-)rət How to pronounce disparate (audio)
: indicating or stimulating dissimilar points on the retina of each eye

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