dis·​place·​ment | \ (ˌ)dis-ˈplā-smənt How to pronounce displacement (audio) , 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 Levi returned to his family in Turin, Italy, after spending almost nine months in displacement camps. New York Times, "For Some Holocaust Survivors, Even Liberation Was Dehumanizing," 28 Apr. 2020 The advocacy group Save the Children reported Tuesday that seven children, including a 7-month-old, have died in cold and ‘‘horrific living conditions’’ in displacement camps in northwestern Syria over recent weeks. Zeina Karam, BostonGlobe.com, "Symbolic Aleppo flight comes as civilians suffer in Syria," 19 Feb. 2020 Families are moving to displacement camps and urban cities like the capital Kabul, one of the world’s fastest growing cities. National Geographic, "In Afghanistan, climate change complicates future prospects for peace," 3 Feb. 2020 Climate change poses significant threats to the physical, cultural, spiritual, social, and economic displacement of communities around the world. Daniel Cusick, Scientific American, "Climate Adaptation Risks Displacing Vulnerable Communities, If Not Done Right," 29 Apr. 2020 Another historical inequity in Portland is housing affordability and displacement of families from their neighborhoods. oregonlive, "Portland Commissioner Position 2 candidates explain what they believe are the city’s biggest inequities," 26 Apr. 2020 Nipsey was using his fame to revive Los Angeles, which over the years has suffered from displacement of POC because of gentrification, homelessness, and lack of economic opportunities for young people. Krysta Hawkins, Teen Vogue, "Nipsey Hussle's Music Forced Me to Chase My Dreams," 31 Mar. 2020 Maybe the lamentations about the closing of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theaters and museums represent the displacement of deeper fears about the wholesale collapse of civilization. New York Times, "What Happens When We Lose the Art That Brings Us Together?," 20 Mar. 2020 There will be mass displacement, pandemics, tribalist violence, genocide, food and water scarcity, deforestation, desertification, cities underwater. Lauren Groff, Harper's magazine, "Waiting for the End of the World," 1 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for displacement

Time Traveler

The first known use of displacement was in 1611

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Statistics for displacement

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Displacement.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/displacement. Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for displacement


How to pronounce displacement (audio)

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 How to pronounce displacement (audio) \

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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