dis·​turb | \di-ˈstərb \

Definition of disturb 

transitive verb

1a : to interfere with : interrupt disturbing the flow of traffic

b : to alter the position or arrangement of the items on her desk had been disturbed

c : to upset the natural and especially the ecological balance or relations of wetlands disturbed by development

2a : to destroy the tranquility or composure of The noisy lawnmower disturbed their sleep. was disturbed by his bizarre behavior

b : to throw into disorder disturbing our routine

c : alarm trying not to disturb the sleeping dogs

d : to put to inconvenience sorry to disturb you at such a late hour

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Other Words from disturb

disturber noun
disturbingly \ -​ˈstər-​biŋ-​lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for disturb

discompose, disquiet, disturb, perturb, agitate, upset, fluster mean to destroy capacity for collected thought or decisive action. discompose implies some degree of loss of self-control or self-confidence especially through emotional stress. discomposed by the loss of his beloved wife disquiet suggests loss of sense of security or peace of mind. the disquieting news of factories closing disturb implies interference with one's mental processes caused by worry, perplexity, or interruption. the discrepancy in accounts disturbed me perturb implies deep disturbance of mind and emotions. perturbed by her husband's strange behavior agitate suggests obvious external signs of nervous or emotional excitement. in his agitated state we could see he was unable to work upset implies the disturbance of normal or habitual functioning by disappointment, distress, or grief. the family's constant bickering upsets the youngest child fluster suggests bewildered agitation. his declaration of love completely flustered her

Examples of disturb in a Sentence

I'm sorry to disturb you at such a late hour. She doesn't want to be disturbed while she's working. Don't disturb the baby when he's sleeping. The noise disturbed my concentration.
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Recent Examples on the Web

East Cobb mother Rene Dodd said she was disturbed by the AJC’s report, and reached out to the district in writing and in person at an April school board meeting. Meris Lutz, ajc, "Cobb schools stonewall parents over sex abuse concerns," 22 June 2018 Villarreal said she was disturbed that people were paid to attend the meeting. Adam Elmahrek, latimes.com, "At a meeting about brown water pouring from taps, congresswoman says people were paid to speak out in favor of water district," 19 June 2018 He was charged with disturbing the peace and disorderly intoxication charges, WESH reported. Josh Magness, miamiherald, "He warned Disney World vacationers of a shooter — but it was a joke for YouTube, cops say," 30 May 2018 At the same time, Gascón said he was disturbed by the shootings. Evan Sernoffsky, San Francisco Chronicle, "Mario Woods shooting: Bayview residents ‘insulted’ by DA clearing police," 25 May 2018 He was issued a citation for an open container of alcohol and charged with disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct, police said. Travis Andersen, BostonGlobe.com, "Brockton man allegedly threatens to kill detective ‘with my bare hands’ during struggle with officers," 3 May 2018 He was also disturbed by how pop culture glamorized gang and prison life. Pam Kragen, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Author's true-crime book aims to steer kids straight through faith," 2 Apr. 2018 Sexton said he was disturbed by the offer but also intrigued by the prospect of meeting Bannon. Philly.com, "Attorney says Roy Moore supporters offered him $10,000 to drop client who accused the Senate candidate of sexual impropriety," 23 Mar. 2018 Trigger warning: This post contains language regarding death by suicide that some readers may find disturbing. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "A Member of a Murder-Suicide Pact Was Found Guilty in the Killing of 18-Year-Old Sam Poss," 10 May 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for disturb

Middle English disturben, destourben, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French destorber, from Latin disturbare, from dis- + turbare to throw into disorder, from turba disorder — more at turbid

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Statistics for disturb

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for disturb

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

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More Definitions for disturb



English Language Learners Definition of disturb

: to stop (someone) from working, sleeping, etc. : to interrupt or bother (someone or something)

: to worry or upset (someone)

: to change the position, arrangement, or order of (something)


dis·​turb | \di-ˈstərb \
disturbed; disturbing

Kids Definition of disturb

1 : to interfere with : interrupt Don't disturb him while he's working.

2 : to change the position or arrangement of

3 : upset entry 1 sense 1, worry I am very disturbed by your behavior.

4 : to make confused or disordered disturb the peace


transitive verb

Legal Definition of disturb 

1 : to destroy the tranquillity or composure of

2 : to throw into disorder

intransitive verb

: to cause disturbance

disturb the peace

: to cause a disturbance

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Comments on disturb

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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