in·​ter·​sperse | \ ˌin-tər-ˈspərs How to pronounce intersperse (audio) \
interspersed; interspersing

Definition of intersperse

transitive verb

1 : to place something at intervals in or among intersperse a book with pictures
2 : to insert at intervals among other things interspersing drawings throughout the text

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Other Words from intersperse

interspersion \ ˌin-​tər-​ˈspər-​zhən How to pronounce interspersion (audio) , -​shən \ noun

Did You Know?

Intersperse derives from Latin interspersus, formed by combining the familiar prefix inter- ("between or among") with "sparsus," the past participle of spargere, meaning "to scatter." In "sparsus" one finds an ancestor to our adjective "sparse," as well as a relative of "spark." (The relationship of "spark" to a word that describes something being scattered about makes sense when you think of sparks bursting or scattering off a flame.) "Intersperse" is often followed by the preposition "with," as in "a straggling street of comfortable white and red houses, interspersed with abundant shady trees." (H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds)

Examples of intersperse in a Sentence

You should intersperse these pictures evenly throughout the book. Some seagulls were interspersed among the ducks.
Recent Examples on the Web Even more notably, Davidsen intersperses displays of force with delicate lyrical strokes. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Operatic Shows of Force," 6 Jan. 2020 Between watching film and spending time with his family back home in Miami, Jeremiah Dinson interspersed his free time during the brief Christmas break with phone calls to a familiar voice — fellow Auburn senior starting safety Daniel Thomas. Tom Green |, al, "Auburn secondary eager for chance to ‘rock out’ against Minnesota’s pair of 1,000-yard receivers," 29 Dec. 2019 Again, that interspersed that pressure from January found its way into spring practices and fall camp. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Practice pressure kept Gophers sharp for big moments like today vs. Badgers," 29 Nov. 2019 Rosato intersperses these images with those of the everyday heroes—a track runner, farmer and Tuskegee Airman among them—that typify this community’s enduring resilience. Sameer Rao,, "Traveling Eastern Shore’s mural trail, where everything from Civil Rights to birds in flight are honored," 31 Oct. 2019 Bigtree interspersed his interview with Clobes with home videos of Evee and a re-enactment of her death. NBC News, "How anti-vaxxers target grieving moms and turn them into crusaders," 24 Sep. 2019 The menu intersperses lists of dishes with pertinent dates, including the year Che Guevara first encountered Fidel Castro and joined his revolutionary movement: 1955. Michelle Hackman And Georgia Wells, WSJ, "The Quirkiest Dining Scene in Berlin? Communist Comfort Food," 28 June 2019 Director Gene Graham intersperses jaw-dropping footage of these shows between interviews with flamboyant dancers like Young Rider, Satan, Fever and twins Tygar and Raw Dawg, who peacock in matching neon outfits. Katie Walsh,, "Review: ‘This One’s for the Ladies’ is a sex-positive celebration of community," 13 June 2019 Weirdly, the words are interspersed with silhouettes of gasoline nozzles. Washington Post, "Style Invitational Week 1360: The lyin’ about winter — a fictoid contest," 27 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intersperse.' 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 intersperse

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for intersperse

Latin interspersus interspersed, from inter- + sparsus, past participle of spargere to scatter — more at spark

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Time Traveler for intersperse

Time Traveler

The first known use of intersperse was in 1566

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intersperse.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for intersperse


How to pronounce intersperse (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of intersperse

: to put (something) at different places among other things
: to put things at different places within (something)


in·​ter·​sperse | \ ˌin-tər-ˈspərs How to pronounce intersperse (audio) \
interspersed; interspersing

Kids Definition of intersperse

1 : to put (something) here and there among other things The publisher interspersed pictures throughout the book.
2 : to put things at various places in or among Sunshine was interspersed with clouds.

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Comments on intersperse

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a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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