dis·​place·​ment | \ (ˌ)dis-ˈplā-smənt , di-ˈsplā-\

Definition of displacement

1 : the act or process of displacing : the state of being displaced a storm that caused the displacement of thousands of people
2a physics : the volume or weight of a fluid (such as water) displaced (see displace sense 2a) by a floating body (such as a ship) of equal weight
b : the difference between the initial position of something (such as a body or geometric figure) and any later position
c mechanical engineering : the volume displaced by a piston (as in a pump or an engine) in a single stroke also, automotive vehicles : the total volume so displaced by all the pistons in an internal combustion engine

3 psychology

a : the redirection of an emotion or impulse from its original object (such as an idea or person) to another the displacement of his emotions
b : the substitution of another form of behavior for what is usual or expected especially when the usual response is nonadaptive or socially inappropriate

called also displacement activity, displacement behavior

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Examples of displacement in a Sentence

The war has caused the displacement of thousands of people. displacements in the Earth's crust soil displacement caused by farming
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Recent Examples on the Web

Whether an American manufacturing worker is replaced by a robot or a Chinese worker, the result is the same: job displacement. N. Gregory Mankiw, New York Times, "Why Aren’t More Men Working?," 15 June 2018 There was large scale displacement of blacks, whites and Latinos in the 1970s, but people there with the help of the Adams Morgan Organization (AMO) won some huge fights around housing and tenant’s rights. Allison Keyes, Smithsonian, "A New Show About Neighborhoods Facing Gentrification Offers a Cautionary Tale," 9 May 2018 Along with new small-displacement bikes aimed at foreign markets, the company has unveiled three motorcycles for segments that the brand has never ventured into before. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "Harley-Davidson reveals its first electric, adventure and streetfighter motorcycles," 30 July 2018 In many major economies, companies are experimenting with replacing factory workers, truck drivers and even lawyers with artificial intelligence, raising the specter of a mass displacement of jobs. Liz Alderman, New York Times, "Robots Ride to the Rescue Where Workers Can’t Be Found," 16 Apr. 2018 In Alemán’s view, the most recent tech wave has intensified gentrification and is tied to massive displacement and homelessness, something López had witnessed in working with her students. Jackie Fielder, Teen Vogue, "Gabriela López Just Became the Youngest Elected Official in San Francisco," 11 Jan. 2019 Firstly, developments in AI could potentially lead to massive labor displacement and concentration of power in the hands of a very small number of people. Sean Illing, Vox, "How to do good better," 14 Dec. 2018 Some residents have expressed concern that the project will lead to gentrification and displacement in the surrounding communities. Lolly Bowean, chicagotribune.com, "Obama Presidential Center gets green light from full City Council," 23 May 2018 The Enquirer/Mike Nyerges A community benefits agreement (CBA) could address some West End residents' concerns about gentrification and displacement, but has the agreement already been hobbled? Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "Limits already set on how much West End will benefit from FC Cincinnati stadium," 9 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'displacement.' 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 displacement

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for displacement

see displace

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Last Updated

14 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for displacement

The first known use of displacement was in 1611

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English Language Learners Definition of displacement

: the act of forcing people or animals to leave the area where they live
: the movement of something from its original or regular position
technical : the amount of water that is moved by an object when it is placed in water


dis·​place·​ment | \ -ˈplā-smənt \

Medical Definition of displacement

1a : the act or process of removing something from its usual or proper place or the state resulting from this : dislocation the displacement of a knee joint
2 : the quantity in which or the degree to which something is displaced
3a : the redirection of an emotion or impulse from its original object (as an idea or person) to something that is more acceptable
c : the substitution of another form of behavior for what is usual or expected especially when the usual response is nonadaptive

called also displacement activity, displacement behavior

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Comments on displacement

What made you want to look up displacement? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a servile follower or underling

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