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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Scientists will continue to monitor the lake’s shores, watching for any signs of disturbance. Robin Andrews, Forbes, 31 May 2021 Details about what kind of disturbance was reported were not available Wednesday morning, said spokesman Austin McDaniel. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 26 May 2021 The girl is a 17-year-old whom Brooks gives the pseudonym Imani, and the proximate cause of the disturbance appears to be Imani’s asking her mother’s boyfriend for money. Patrick Blanchfield, The New Republic, 25 May 2021 There appears to have been some sort of disturbance between multiple shooters in the parking lot of the complex, police said. Amir Vera And Hollie Silverman, CNN, 24 May 2021 Officers responded to anonymous report May 12 of a disturbance at a residence. cleveland, 21 May 2021 One of the areas of disturbance is reportedly located over the Atlantic Ocean around 450 miles east-northeast of Bermuda. Julia Musto, Fox News, 21 May 2021 The Palestinian society pays the price collectively if anyone causes any type of disturbance, even through nonviolent resistance. Ashraf Ashkar, Star Tribune, 20 May 2021 Valparaiso police arrested Michael Bachar, 43, of the 700 block of Center Street in Valparaiso, early Tuesday after responding around 1:20 a.m. to the 700 block of Center Street for a report of a disturbance, police have said. Amy Lavalley, chicagotribune.com, 20 May 2021

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.

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First Known Use of disturbance

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for disturbance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for disturbance

Last Updated

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Disturbance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disturbance. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for disturbance



English Language Learners Definition of disturbance

: something that stops you from working, sleeping, etc. : the act of disturbing someone or something
: a change in the position, arrangement, or order of something
: violent or noisy behavior especially in public


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

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Legal Definition of disturbance

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


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