dis·​tur·​bance di-ˈstər-bən(t)s How to pronounce disturbance (audio)
plural disturbances
: the act of disturbing someone or something : the state of being disturbed: such as
: an interruption of a state of peace, quiet, or calm
His choler rose in proportion to the surprise, and, perhaps, to the disturbance of his repose.Sir Walter Scott
… a caller reported loud music causing a disturbanceSaugus (Massachusetts) Advertiser
They were charged with disturbance of the peace.
: an interference with or alteration in a planned, ordered, or usual procedure, state, or habit
He was still suffering from this sudden disturbance of the quiet routine of his life.Arthur Conan Doyle
Impacts inflicted by mining … include … disturbance of wildlife habitat …Todd Wilkinson
: a moving out of place
Bruce was particular about his things and would notice any slight disturbance to his stuff …Tegan Quin
These latter circumstances … may, I think, be accounted for, by the disturbance of the mud at the bottom of the sea …Charles Darwin
: a departure from a norm or standard : a deviation, disruption, or impairment in form, function, or activity
sleep disturbances
endocrine disturbances
Once identified as having an emotional disturbance with associated behavior problems, it's considered best practice for the child to get a behavior intervention plan …Patrick Skahil and David Desroches
Identifying coronavirus' economic effects combined with other major economic disturbances requires accurate data …Bruce Yandle
: noisy or violent activity : commotion
Police responding to complaints of a loud disturbance in a parking lot … found 15 to 20 teenagers gathered …R. Robin McDonald
: a local variation from the average or normal wind conditions

Examples of disturbance in a Sentence

She doesn't want any more disturbances while she is studying. He reacts badly to disturbance of his daily routine. Fish are able to detect even slight disturbances in the water. Disturbance of the river's sediment causes cloudy water. Neighbors called the police to report a disturbance. They were arrested for creating a disturbance. The violence that soldiers experience in war can lead to emotional disturbance in later years.
Recent Examples on the Web Quantum physics explains how extremely small objects simultaneously have characteristics of both particles (tiny pieces of matter) and waves (a disturbance or variation that transfers energy). San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Apr. 2024 The greatest disturbance for these bats are humans disturbing hibernating colonies. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 16 Apr. 2024 The officers didn’t find the disturbance and left without filing a report. Grethel Aguila, Miami Herald, 15 Apr. 2024 This is due to narrow, steep sections within inner-Canyon trails, unpredictable pet behavior, wildlife disturbance, and attracting predators, park services said. Coleby Phillips, The Arizona Republic, 13 Apr. 2024 The disturbance prompted the Parliament’s president to call for calm. Beatriz Ríos, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2024 But a lot of people just don’t know what sea otter disturbance looks like, explains Bentall. Olivia Ferrari, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Apr. 2024 Elmore said cover cropping, which covers and enriches the soil outside the growing season, and no-till farming, which minimizes soil disturbance, can be useful. Laura Schulte, Journal Sentinel, 3 Apr. 2024 California Poppy: Nerve Control 911 contains 45mg of California poppy seed to relieve nerve pain, blood vessel problems, and sleep and mood disturbances. Andrew Price, Discover Magazine, 3 Apr. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of disturbance was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near disturbance

Cite this Entry

“Disturbance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disturbance. Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the act of disturbing
: mental confusion : upset
: public commotion : disorder

Medical Definition


dis·​tur·​bance dis-ˈtər-bən(t)s How to pronounce disturbance (audio)
: a deviation, disruption, or impairment in form, function, or activity
visual disturbances
disturbances of metabolism
Emotional disturbance is one of the 13 disabilities schools use to identify students who may receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, the federal special education law.Howard Weiss-Tisman, Brattleboro (Vermont) Reformer

Legal Definition


: an interruption of peace or order
specifically : an interruption of the quiet enjoyment of one's property

More from Merriam-Webster on disturbance

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