dis·​turb | \ di-ˈstərb How to pronounce disturb (audio) \
disturbed; disturbing; disturbs

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 \ di-​ˈstər-​biŋ-​lē How to pronounce disturbingly (audio) \ 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 Activities like recording video, photographing, and attempting to influence or disturb a voter are prohibited and punishable by law. Salma Reyes, The Arizona Republic, "A cautionary tale: Goodyear man gets probation, fines for recording at polling place," 22 Oct. 2020 The children were now settled with a former spouse, and visits would only disturb them and their new household, a judge said before turning sole custody over to the father. Washington Post, "In Japan, divorce can mean losing access to children. Many parents want that to change.," 19 Oct. 2020 The architects strategically planted the building’s steel columns in areas of the site that would not disturb any relics, reports Architectural Digest. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Turkish Hotel ‘Floats’ Above Ancient Ruins," 20 Apr. 2020 And the show’s treatment of Fredrick Douglass, as played by Daveed Diggs, is sure to disturb some viewers. Carvell Wallace, New York Times, "‘The Good Lord Bird’ Is Good TV. But Mix Art and Slavery at Your Peril.," 6 Oct. 2020 Not wanting to disturb their dad, who goes to bed early, Doug Ringgard and Christina Martin head outside to talk. Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, "Trying to restart life from a roadside motel after the wildfires burn out," 29 Sep. 2020 In short, climatic shifts that affect one organism are likely to trigger ripple effects that can disturb the structure and functioning of entire ecosystems. Sasha Greenspan, The Conversation, "Climate warming is altering animals’ gut microbes, which are critical to their health and survival," 28 Sep. 2020 Walking through grass that has a high level of infection will disturb and then release lots of orange spores, leaving an orange color on your shoes. Tim Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Lawn with yellowed patches leaving orange powdery residue likely sign of rust disease. Here’s how to treat it.," 26 Sep. 2020 The enclosure would need a false bottom, Lindquist said, or to be placed in a section of the harbor deep enough that swimmers couldn’t touch the bottom, since doing so could disturb old pollutants buried in the harbor’s depths. Christine Condon, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore’s Waterfront Partnership releases new vision for Inner Harbor swimming," 23 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for disturb

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for disturb

Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disturb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disturb. Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for disturb


How to pronounce disturb (audio)

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 How to pronounce disturb (audio) \
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

Legal Definition of disturb

1 : to destroy the tranquility 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

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