disperse

verb
dis·perse | \di-ˈspərs \
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 \-ˈspər-səd-lē, -ˈspərst-lē \ adverb
disperser noun
dispersible \-ˈspər-sə-bəl \ 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

No one who has not showered should swim in a lake either, but the sheer size of most lakes means the bacteria and microscopic parasites disperse, lessening the chances of infection even if someone swallows water accidentally. Glenn Howatt, chicagotribune.com, "Swimming pools, hot tubs are more likely than lakes to make you sick, studies find," 11 July 2018 No one who has not showered should swim in a lake either, but the sheer size of most lakes means the bacteria and microscopic parasites disperse, lessening the chances of infection even if someone swallows water accidentally. Glenn Howatt, ajc, "Swimming pools, hot tubs are more likely than lakes to make you sick, studies find," 9 July 2018 Upon returning home, Annie, Steve and their children disperse, with Annie retreating to her studio to work on the dollhouse-like art installations that are her specialty. Ann Hornaday, kansascity, "In terrifying ‘Hereditary,’ past horrors haunt a dysfunctional family," 7 June 2018 Israeli troops used tear gas and live ammunition to try and disperse the crowd, killing at least 58 and injuring as many as 2,700, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Ian Lee, Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "Fears of more deaths in Gaza as Israel's actions condemned," 15 May 2018 When stimulated by amphetamine, cocaine or other addictive drugs, the reward system disperses up to 10 times more dopamine than usual. Ferris Jabr, Scientific American, "How the Brain Gets Addicted to Gambling," 14 May 2018 Many festival attendees were tourists, so they were very dispersed. Alex Yablon, Billboard, "Las Vegas Gun Control Activist Karl Catarata on the Reform Movement's Next Steps," 12 Apr. 2018 Sand and clay was dispersed by branches off the trunk of the river, like branches of a tree bringing water to every leaf. Hanna Krueger, NOLA.com, "Coast Guard warns French Quarter Fest boaters of hazardous condition," 11 Apr. 2018 The story begins with the events leading to the destruction of Hastings St., and the vibrant life that was dispersed to the 12th Street community – and its fateful end in 1967. Detroit Free Press Staff, Detroit Free Press, "Build your movie-making skills, knowledge at free Freep Film Festival events," 5 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for disperse

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for disperse

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

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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 \
dispersed; dispersing

Kids Definition of disperse

: to break up and scatter The clouds dispersed.

disperse

verb
dis·perse | \dis-ˈpərs \
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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Comments on disperse

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evasion of direct action or statement

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