dis·​sem·​i·​nate di-ˈse-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce disseminate (audio)
disseminated; disseminating

transitive verb

: to spread abroad as though sowing seed
disseminate ideas
: to disperse throughout
disseminator noun

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Disseminating Information on Disseminate

While the object of the verb disseminate may be something tangible, such as an infectious agent, nowadays the thing most often disseminated, or "spread abroad as though sowing seed," is information. Where does this metaphorical verb come from? In Latin, the dis- prefix signifies separation or dispersal, while the -sem- element springs from semen "seed." The same Latin noun is found in a number of other English words with figurative meanings: seminary (which now is a training facility for priests, but initially was a place where seeds were raised to plants), seminal (meaning "containing the seeds of later development"), and yes, the word semen.

Examples of disseminate in a Sentence

He told me that as Commanding General [General David Petraeus] he believes he should not only direct battlefield action but also disseminate a few easy-to-grasp concepts about the war's prosecution, which subordinate officers can then interpret on their own. Steve Coll, New Yorker, 8 Sept. 2008
Jefferson helped found and back a friendly newspaper, the National Gazette, to help disseminate his views. Walter Kim, Time, 5 July 2004
In this case, the filmmakers did not prevent information from being disseminated. And they have no greater moral obligation than do the highly paid Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather to help a TV network keep down its costs. Randy Cohen, New York Times Magazine, 7 Oct. 2001
Although possession of virus software and source code is not illegal, many of the existing state and federal computer intrusion and unauthorized access laws already make it illegal to introduce a virus into someone's system intentionally. Robert Morris's conviction … shows how the existing laws might be used to punish those involved with disseminating viruses. Edward A. Cavazos et al., Cyberspace And The Law, 1994
The Internet allows us to disseminate information faster. The findings were widely disseminated. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The group has created antisemitic fliers that have been disseminated in neighborhoods across the country. Donie O'Sullivan, CNN, 14 Nov. 2023 Local outlets, including radio stations, had been forced to stop broadcasting, and journalists have taken to disseminating news on their social media feeds. Mohamad El Chamaa, Washington Post, 8 Nov. 2023 In other words, a small candle in a large room may not disseminate its scent thoroughly or with much strength. L. Daniela Alvarez, Better Homes & Gardens, 27 Oct. 2023 Braden’s story is just one example of how Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, has used his famous name to disseminate false information about vaccines and other topics in a time when spreading conspiracy theories has become a powerful way to grow a constituency. Michelle R. Smith, Fortune, 18 Oct. 2023 But most importantly, when an effective treatment became available, it was disseminated worldwide, and part of that happened because isoniazid was unpatentable, so costs for producing it and treating people with it remained low. Brianne Kane, Scientific American, 17 Oct. 2023 Stand News’s preferred form of disseminating news that summer was live-streaming. Timothy McLaughlin, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2023 Once the government has deemed information in a document to be national defense information, defendants who are accused of willfully retaining and/or disseminating it are not even allowed to question in a court of law if this is national security information or not. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 31 Oct. 2023 But after years of complicity in disseminating Trumpian lies—about the 2016 election, the COVID pandemic, and the January 6th riots—the company has performed an about-face. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 18 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disseminate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin disseminatus, past participle of disseminare, from dis- + seminare to sow, from semin-, semen seed — more at semen

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of disseminate was in 1566

Dictionary Entries Near disseminate

Cite this Entry

“Disseminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disseminate. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


dis·​sem·​i·​nate dis-ˈem-ə-ˌnāt How to pronounce disseminate (audio)
disseminated; disseminating
: to spread around as if sowing seed
disseminate ideas
dissemination noun
disseminator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on disseminate

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