scat·​ter | \ ˈska-tər How to pronounce scatter (audio) \
scattered; scattering; scatters

Definition of scatter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to cause to separate widely
b : to cause to vanish
2 archaic : to fling away heedlessly : squander
3 : to distribute irregularly
4 : to sow by casting in all directions : strew
5a : to reflect irregularly and diffusely
b : to cause (a beam of radiation) to diffuse or disperse
6 : to divide into ineffectual small portions

intransitive verb

1 : to separate and go in various directions : disperse
2 : to occur or fall irregularly or at random



Definition of scatter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of scattering
2 : a small quantity or number irregularly distributed or strewn about : scattering
3 : the state or extent of being scattered especially : dispersion

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Other Words from scatter


scatterer \ ˈska-​tər-​ər How to pronounce scatterer (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for scatter


scatter, disperse, dissipate, dispel mean to cause to separate or break up. scatter implies a force that drives parts or units irregularly in many directions. the bowling ball scattered the pins disperse implies a wider separation and a complete breaking up of a mass or group. police dispersed the crowd dissipate stresses complete disintegration or dissolution and final disappearance. the fog was dissipated by the morning sun dispel stresses a driving away or getting rid of as if by scattering. an authoritative statement that dispelled all doubt

Examples of scatter in a Sentence

Verb The wind scattered the pile of leaves. The marbles scattered across the floor. She scattered the books on the table. He scatters his toys all around the house. Noun played before only a scatter of spectators in that huge stadium
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This fact is crucial: if the sum is not the expected number of neutrinos, unmeasured sterile neutrinos—which would not scatter off argon and therefore would not create any flash of light—may be involved. William Charles Louis, Scientific American, "Hidden Neutrino Particles May Be a Link to the Dark Sector," 1 July 2020 The Army has launched an investigation into possible abuse of National Guard helicopters, which flew low over protesters in Washington, D.C. in what appeared to be attempts to scatter them. Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY, "Lawmakers to grill Pentagon leaders on use of military to respond to Black Lives Matter protests," 10 July 2020 Job losses, and the resulting hit on personal finances, also forced Americans to scatter. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Move over Nasdaq. This exchange has been killing it over the past month," 8 July 2020 In the United States, they may get caught up in systems of westerly winds that scatter them over the East Coast. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Saharan Dust Plume Slams U.S., Kicking Up Climate Questions," 26 June 2020 Police had used pepper balls to scatter protest crowds after curfew through the weekend. Washington Post, "Kentucky mom wants peace, justice for son killed by police," 8 June 2020 His research has shown that the stunning blue morpho butterfly gets its glittering blue color not from pigment, but from the Christmas-tree like shapes of the scale’s microstructures that scatter all frequencies of light but blue. Popular Science, "We can soon thank butterfly tongues for better cancer treatments and vaccines," 2 June 2020 Hours earlier, a larger crowd elsewhere in the city shut down traffic, and police officers and state troopers used tear gas and pepper spray to scatter the demonstrators. NBC News, "Curfews not enough to keep the peace with protests, arrests coast to coast," 1 June 2020 After protesters shut down Interstate 5 through central Seattle, police used flash bangs and pepper spray to scatter them. Fox News, "Rioting across the nation leaves cities reeling as hundreds arrested, National Guard called in, businesses damaged and at least one dead," 1 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Officers also used crowd control munitions such as tear gas to scatter protestors. Ryan Nguyen | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Police shoot Portland protester in head with impact weapon, causing severe injuries," 12 July 2020 Every day for the next 10, scientists emerge from our half-dozen tents and scatter. Craig Welch, National Geographic, "The tree at the bottom of the world—and the wind-blasted trek to find it," 7 July 2020 As the sisters scatter, one of them slips the halo into Ava's body. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: Fierce and fun Warrior Nun is a perfect Fourth of July binge-watch," 3 July 2020 While the coals are heating (or gas grill is preheating), break up the ground chuck and scatter it in a wide bowl to maximize the surface area for seasoning. Erin Booke, Dallas News, "5 fan-favorite burger recipes from Texas chefs and more," 3 July 2020 Police declared an unlawful assembly about 10:30 p.m. and used force to scatter protesters. oregonlive, "Portland protests continue over the weekend; demonstrations scheduled to resume Monday," 29 June 2020 Divide the potato salad among four small plates (or two larger ones), top each with half an ajitama (or two halves), scatter the diagonal sliced scallion greens on top and serve. Dallas News, "Potato salad celebration: 4 recipes for your next socially-distanced picnic," 17 June 2020 Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy & his staff are making arrangements to return to Frisco & will report to work at The Star on Friday for the first time since Covid-19 forced everyone to scatter in March, sources said. David Moore, Dallas News, "NFL coaches allowed to return to team facilities on Friday," 4 June 2020 The incident caused demonstrators to scatter, fearing something much worse than ice was being thrown at them. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "What happened Wednesday on the seventh night of Breonna Taylor protests in Louisville," 4 June 2020

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1642, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scatter


Middle English scateren, schateren to disperse, break up, destroy; akin to Middle Dutch schaderen to scatter

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Time Traveler for scatter

Time Traveler

The first known use of scatter was in the 14th century

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Statistics for scatter

Last Updated

28 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Scatter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for scatter


How to pronounce scatter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of scatter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cause (things or people) to separate and go in different directions
: to separate and go in different directions
: to place or leave (things) in different places



English Language Learners Definition of scatter (Entry 2 of 2)

: a small number or group of things placed or found apart from each other


scat·​ter | \ ˈska-tər How to pronounce scatter (audio) \
scattered; scattering

Kids Definition of scatter

1 : to toss, sow, or place here and there He scattered his toys all around the house.
2 : to separate or cause to separate and go in different ways The crowd suddenly scattered.
scat·​ter | \ ˈskat-ər How to pronounce scatter (audio) \

Medical Definition of scatter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cause (a beam of radiation) to diffuse or disperse



Medical Definition of scatter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of scattering
2 : the state or extent of being scattered especially : scattering

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More from Merriam-Webster on scatter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scatter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scatter

Spanish Central: Translation of scatter

Nglish: Translation of scatter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scatter for Arabic Speakers

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