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

There can be problems even if the credit is dispersed monthly. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Democrats are proposing a renters tax credit. Would it help or hurt renters?," 24 June 2019 By the time the evening of mixing and mingling drew to a close, the sun had emerged to match the cheerful disposition of the guests dispersing from the party. Vogue, "Tanya Taylor Hosted a Gorgeous Garden Party to Celebrate the Brand’s Newest Summer-Ready Accessory," 21 June 2019 Their body overreacts to try to cool them off by dispersing heat and sweating. Korin Miller, Health.com, "What Are Hot Flashes—And Why Do They Happen During Menopause?," 17 Sep. 2019 Headquartered at Naval Air Station Oceana, Dam Neck Annex, Virginia, the command executes training at 10 globally dispersed learning sites with military and civilian instructors and staff personnel. William Lovelady, Houston Chronicle, "Houston native trains as a U.S. Navy warfighter," 13 Sep. 2019 Most of the arrests happened after the rally as officers tried to disperse the crowd of counter protesters to reopen streets. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, "Straight Pride Parade fallout: Boston DA wins fight over counter protester arrests," 9 Sep. 2019 Done correctly, the process should allow the active ingredients to evenly disperse in the beverage and absorb into the bloodstream much faster than if they're digested. Kristine Owram, chicagotribune.com, "Scientists are racing to make pot like booze so you can drink it," 6 Sep. 2019 After hoisting warning flags, police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. Kin Cheung, The Denver Post, "Hong Kong police draw guns, arrest 36 in latest protest," 25 Aug. 2019 After hoisting warning flags, police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. BostonGlobe.com, "Police, protesters skirmish in Hong Kong after pro-democracy march," 25 Aug. 2019

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

18 Oct 2019

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



English Language Learners Definition of disperse

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


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

Kids Definition of disperse

: to break up and scatter The clouds dispersed.


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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More from Merriam-Webster on disperse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with disperse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disperse

Spanish Central: Translation of disperse

Nglish: Translation of disperse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of disperse for Arabic Speakers

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