disperse

verb
dis·​perse | \ di-ˈspərs How to pronounce disperse (audio) \
dispersed; dispersing

Definition of disperse

transitive verb

1a : to cause to break up (see break up sense 1a) police dispersed the crowd
b : to cause to become spread widely disperse the troops
c : to cause to evaporate or vanish sunlight dispersing the mist
2 : to spread or distribute from a fixed or constant source: such as
a archaic : disseminate disperse the news
b physics : to subject to dispersion (see dispersion sense 4) disperse light
c chemistry : to distribute (something, such as fine particles) more or less evenly throughout a medium

intransitive verb

1 : to break up in random fashion the crowd dispersed on request
2a : to become dispersed the particles dispersed throughout the mixture
b : dissipate, vanish the fog dispersed toward morning

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Other Words from disperse

dispersedly \ di-​ˈspər-​səd-​lē How to pronounce disperse (audio) , -​ˈspərst-​lē \ adverb
disperser noun
dispersible \ di-​ˈspər-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce disperse (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for disperse

scatter, disperse, dissipate, dispel mean to cause to separate or break up. scatter implies a force that drives parts or units irregularly in many directions. the bowling ball scattered the pins disperse implies a wider separation and a complete breaking up of a mass or group. police dispersed the crowd dissipate stresses complete disintegration or dissolution and final disappearance. the fog was dissipated by the morning sun dispel stresses a driving away or getting rid of as if by scattering. an authoritative statement that dispelled all doubt

Examples of disperse in a Sentence

Police ordered the crowd to disperse. the crowd dispersed once the show ended
Recent Examples on the Web Some companies, including Microsoft have developed underwater or partially submerged data centers that rely on large bodies of already cool water to disperse heat. NBC News, 19 June 2021 Some officers who’d tried to disperse the gatherings were pelted with bottles and other objects. Rebecca Lurye, courant.com, 18 June 2021 Tensions between the jubilant crowds and security forces were high, with tear gas being used to disperse people coming to greet Gbagbo. Star Tribune, 17 June 2021 The specialized crowd control team was the unit often directed to disperse the crowds once police declared unlawful assemblies or riots. oregonlive, 17 June 2021 According to the Pact, its adherents were obliged to disperse immediately after the completion of the proceedings of the reunion; no one was to spy on the destination of the others. Cynthia Ozick, The New Yorker, 14 June 2021 One particularly important bird trait is mouth size—also known as gape width—which constrains the size of seeds a bird may consume and disperse. Samuel B. Case, Scientific American, 12 June 2021 All that could disperse in the wind brought into the real on the body. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, 11 June 2021 He was accused of resisting arrest, trespass and refusal to disperse when ordered. Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2021

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

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First Known Use of disperse

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for disperse

Middle English, from Latin dispersus, past participle of dispergere to scatter, from dis- + spargere to scatter — more at spark

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Time Traveler for disperse

Time Traveler

The first known use of disperse was in the 14th century

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Statistics for disperse

Last Updated

22 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Disperse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disperse. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for disperse

disperse

verb

English Language Learners Definition of disperse

: to go or move in different directions : to spread apart

disperse

verb
dis·​perse | \ di-ˈspərs How to pronounce disperse (audio) \
dispersed; dispersing

Kids Definition of disperse

: to break up and scatter The clouds dispersed.

disperse

verb
dis·​perse | \ dis-ˈpərs How to pronounce disperse (audio) \
dispersed; dispersing

Medical Definition of disperse

transitive verb

: to spread or distribute from a fixed or constant source: as
a : to subject (as light) to dispersion
b : to distribute (as fine particles) more or less evenly throughout a medium

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