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

Definition of intersperse

transitive verb

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

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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 Coe does offer us an overview of George Washington's life here, but with an eye toward breaking down myths, interspersing facts with rich commentary, and having a little fun. David Canfield,, "20 new books to read in February," 1 Feb. 2020 Even the Napoleon, usually a sweet, stodgy brick, is a marvel of flaky layers interspersed with rich custard. Chris Morocco, Bon Appétit, "Almondine Bakery Is the Only Reason You’ll Find Me in Dumbo," 8 Jan. 2020 The morning show produced a split-screen of clips from the House debate, showing gloomy Democrats criticizing Trump, interspersed with Trump rallying his crowd and reciting talking points. Brian Stelter, CNN, "'Fox & Friends' gives its most powerful viewer some post-impeachment affirmation," 19 Dec. 2019 Many other books on this topic are angry and hectoring; this one delivers a deeply moral message in a playful tone, interspersed with humour. The Economist, "The case for migration—in pictures," 12 Dec. 2019 Scenes from a fictional story about an affluent American family are interspersed with these information-dense interviews to illustrate the concepts at work. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Social Dilemma': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 On Tuesday, outside the funeral, police officers were stationed on several rooftops, antiterrorism officers were interspersed with the crowd, and an armored vehicle was parked nearby. New York Times, "Jersey Officer Mourned at Police Funeral: ‘It Could Be Any One of Us’," 17 Dec. 2019 The narrative is interspersed with recipes, because if food is love, why shouldn’t hate get a meal, too. Alexandra Ossola, Quartz, "Before We Knew Better: Nora Ephron’s Heartburn offers a complicated look at women, and at feminism," 16 Dec. 2019 Lamar weaves together a nuanced take on his upbringing in a gang-riddled neighborhood, interspersing soulful, meandering beats and introspective rhymes with evocative skits and scratchy voicemail recordings. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 100 Greatest Albums of the 2010s: Staff Picks," 19 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 2

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

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intersperse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 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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