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

Today this all-too-cozy, white-guy camaraderie seemed to extend to disturbing new levels as NBC correspondent Geoff Bennett tweeted that sources said Trump and Kennedy had actually negotiated his selection of Kavanaugh over the last few months. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Confirmed: The Supreme Court Is Just Another White Boys’ Club," 10 July 2018 Warning: This audio could disturb some listeners Louisville Courier Journal A translator was connected to the call, police said. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "'Don't touch her': 911 call details lead up to fatal shooting by LMPD," 6 July 2018 The contaminated section is capped underground, which does limit development, as that cannot be disturbed. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Storage Master continues expansion with new facility at former Cudahy Tannery site," 2 July 2018 Privacy - Terms The outcry over child separation has revealed a disturbing bigger picture. Alex Leary And Steve Bousquet, miamiherald, "Who's holding immigrants in Florida? Private vendors, feds and county sheriffs, too.," 29 June 2018 The incident is just one among several disturbing allegations centered around brutal policing tactics at Woodland Hills High School. Anne Branigin, The Root, "High School Antwon Rose Attended Faces Brutal Allegations of Police Abuse: Report," 28 June 2018 Initially, some diners were disturbed with the man being removed. Amber Jayanth, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Police Department releases body cam video after police called on homeless man in restaurant," 21 June 2018 While the German policies may be disturbing, Wienthal, also a correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, said he was not shocked by the UEJF report. Eric Berger, Jewish Journal, "European Jews increasingly feel abandoned by government," 13 June 2018 Hardin County Sheriff John Ward tells news outlets that deputies and Elizabethtown police acting on a tip Saturday found freshly disturbed dirt behind a home, and digging yielded a man's body. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Police tip leads to gruesome discovery behind Kentucky home," 11 June 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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Learn More about disturb

Phrases Related to disturb

disturb the peace

Statistics for disturb

Last Updated

12 Sep 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

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