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 Each farm would span a couple of hectares and would consist of rows upon rows of seaweed, interspersed with floats. Annie Sneed, Scientific American, "Could Our Energy Come from Giant Seaweed Farms in the Ocean?," 16 Mar. 2020 The cheeky clip features the Chicks interspersed with vintage clips. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Dixie Chicks return with 'Gaslighter'," 4 Mar. 2020 On Instagram, the hashtag #bulletjournal conjures over 5 million posts of artistic journal spreads interspersed with calligraphy and colorful illustrations. NBC News, "How one woman uses bullet journaling to make life more manageable," 12 Feb. 2020 The book’s photos are equal parts airy and homey, interspersed with photos of candlelit dinner parties in Henry’s London home. Marian Bull, WSJ, "Why Your Oven Is Really Your Kitchen’s Sneakiest Secret Weapon," 28 Jan. 2020 The nearby air fills with the electric motor thrum of the oil pump jacks they are interspersed with. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, "Like a 'second wife': Wind energy gives American farmers a new crop to sell in tough times," 16 Feb. 2020 Throughout the evening, Kwong sets puzzles for the audience, interspersing them with more traditional tricks, like one involving an audience member’s phone number and a Boggle set that was unbearably good. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "Holiday Magic: Fooled and Fooled and Fooled Again," 6 Dec. 2019 The author updates recipes for modern readers and intersperses them with fascinating original historical recipes. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gift guide: 2019 cookbooks and companion goodies for food and drink lovers," 5 Dec. 2019 It is also interspersed with a sweet, romantic tale of a boy who is lost and then found by a girl, who becomes his companion and his protector. Tamar Herman, Billboard, "BTS' Epic Music Video for 'Make It Right' With Lauv Is a Homage to ARMY: Watch," 18 Oct. 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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Statistics for intersperse

Last Updated

26 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intersperse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Apr. 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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