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

Like Sequoia, more than 95% is wilderness and few roads disturb the peace. Rosemary Mcclure, Los Angeles Times, "In fall, experience the awe and adventure in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks," 31 Aug. 2019 The neighbor said the crew runs loud equipment and trucks in and out of the property daily, disturbing the peace. Joan Rusek, cleveland.com, "Donuts, burnouts and a damaged mailbox vex residents: Russell Township police blotter," 23 Aug. 2019 During the second arrest, he was charged with rogue and vagabond, fourth-degree burglary, and disturbing the peace, then released on his own recognizance by the District Court Commissioner. Washington Post, "Crime reports for Anne Arundel and Howard counties and for Annapolis," 15 Aug. 2019 The licensee of Coakley’s Pub in Havre de Grace was fined $1,000 Wednesday for failing to keep from disturbing the peace and for allowing visibly intoxicated customers to remain at the bar. Erika Butler, baltimoresun.com, "Coakley’s in Havre de Grace fined $1,000 for serving intoxicated customers, disturbing the peace," 15 Aug. 2019 Spencer Sutton, 25, was originally charged with battery but pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace. Fox News, "Second New Orleans officer enters plea in connection with beating of Hispanic man," 8 Aug. 2019 According to the outlet, Dwyan Morgan, 64, was charged with disturbing the peace for using a green laser pointer to distract Brady at Arrowhead Stadium during the fourth quarter of the game in January. Alaa Abdeldaiem, SI.com, "Chiefs Fan Fined $500 for Shining Laser Pointer at Tom Brady," 18 July 2019 Under Florida law, affray is a first degree misdemeanor charge resulting from two or more people fighting in a public place, disturbing the peace. Tiffini Theisen, orlandosentinel.com, "Five guys arrested after fist fight at Five Guys," 18 July 2019 Eventually the band was able to reach a deal with prosecutors by pleading guilty to disturbing the peace, paying around $4,000 in fines and court costs. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al.com, "The Alabama police officer who arrested the Allman Brothers nearly 50 years ago has died," 4 July 2019

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

12 Sep 2019

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 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


transitive verb

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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More from Merriam-Webster on disturb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with disturb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disturb

Spanish Central: Translation of disturb

Nglish: Translation of disturb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of disturb for Arabic Speakers

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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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