dis·​tur·​bance | \ di-ˈstər-bən(t)s How to pronounce disturbance (audio) \
plural disturbances

Definition of disturbance

1 : the act of disturbing someone or something : the state of being disturbed: such as
a : 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.
b(1) : 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
(2) : 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
c : 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
2 : 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
3 : 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web In an era of plague and climatic disturbance, there is no more fertile issue than the inter-wreathing of the human and the natural, and no one better than Garland to give it luxuriant life onscreen. The New Yorker, 20 May 2022 Officers were called to the 300 block of North Meridian Street because of a disturbance or fight, said IMPD Officer William Young. Jake Allen, The Indianapolis Star, 19 May 2022 Emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, America is overflowing with people suffering from a broad range of mental disturbance. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, 18 May 2022 In the face of the stress of climate and disturbance (as from fire), ecosystems will shuffle what species are in their community. Joan Meiners, The Arizona Republic, 18 May 2022 Richardson was one of two people detained in the park shortly after Holliday was shot about 7:30 p.m., which is also when hundreds of teens were moving through the area, creating a disturbance and prompting a large police response. Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune, 16 May 2022 Boerne Police said 911 dispatchers received a call at around 1 a.m. about a disturbance in the 700 block of Oak Park in Boerne. Taylor Pettaway, San Antonio Express-News, 16 May 2022 Additionally, the wind shear (increase in wind speed with altitude) was exceptionally strong for mid-May, thanks to an intensifying jet stream disturbance aloft. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, 16 May 2022 The police department at 12:50 a.m. on April 30 responded to the Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Emergency Department regarding a patient creating a disturbance. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, 15 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disturbance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of disturbance

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Disturbance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disturbance. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for disturbance


dis·​tur·​bance | \ di-ˈstər-bəns How to pronounce disturbance (audio) \

Kids Definition of disturbance

1 : the act of interrupting, changing the arrangement of, or upsetting : the state of being interrupted, changed in arrangement, or upset Fish can feel any disturbances in the water.
2 : disorder entry 2 sense 2, commotion I reported a disturbance to the police.


dis·​tur·​bance | \ dis-ˈtər-bən(t)s How to pronounce disturbance (audio) \

Medical Definition of disturbance

: 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 of disturbance

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

More from Merriam-Webster on disturbance

Nglish: Translation of disturbance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of disturbance for Arabic Speakers


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