in·ter·sperse | \ˌin-tər-ˈspərs \
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, -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

Soccer players jog or walk for much of a 90 minute-game, interspersed with regular bursts of full-out sprinting. Tom Avril,, "World Cup athletes burn a lot of energy. But some sports are even more demanding," 6 July 2018 Late in the hour-long session, with only Bridges and St. Joseph's James Demery participating, the Hornets interspersed full-court sprints with sessions of long-range shooting. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "What Villanova's Mikal Bridges discovered at first NBA workout with Hornets," 2 June 2018 On Sunday, dozens huddled in the chilly air to launch a few dozen white balloons; a few silver stars were interspersed. Deborah Kadin,, "'We stand with you': Hundreds attend memorial service for Northlake Middle School student," 21 May 2018 The film is interspersed with Toller’s diary entries, which start out thoughtful and rigorous and slowly begin to sound more haunted. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Bracing, Grim Power of First Reformed," 18 May 2018 The story of Albertine’s early life and its resonances in the present is interspersed with an account of the night of her mother’s death, the same night as her first book-release party. Joanna Scutts, The New Republic, "Viv Albertine’s Punk Memories," 10 May 2018 In his father's day, ripening the nebbiolo grape was often difficult, and good vintages were interspersed with bad ones. Jay Mcinerney, Town & Country, "How a wine making dynasty challenged the old ways in order to save itself.," 11 Oct. 2016 Fans swipe through eclectic collections of user-uploaded videos, typically just 10 to 15 seconds long, interspersed with ads. WSJ, "Short-Video App Douyin Resumes Advertising," 11 July 2018 There have been a few completely awful, rainy days interspersed with stifling heat — perfect for the pool, though perhaps a little too busy for pool staff. Sara Clarkson,, "Clarkson: Feeling lost, but found, in pool or air conditioning this stifling summer," 5 July 2018

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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Statistics for intersperse

Last Updated

25 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for intersperse

The first known use of intersperse was in 1566

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More Definitions for intersperse



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 \
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

What made you want to look up intersperse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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