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 Outside, tables are scattered around a fenced lot, interspersed with succulents and oak trees. Nina Sovich, WSJ, "Austin Getaway: A Grown-Up’s Guide to the Cool-Kid City," 15 Jan. 2020 At the time of her death, her papers were scattered around the country. Washington Post, "New book shares early stories written by Zora Neale Hurston," 15 Jan. 2020 Funfetti is the classic sugar cookie dough scattered with candy sprinkles, while the rich brownie batter is a chocoholic’s dream. Mary Honkus,, "Edible Funfetti Cookie Dough Is Already the Greatest Invention of 2020," 15 Jan. 2020 Park areas would also be scattered throughout the subdivision. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A new 82-lot subdivision has taken a step forward in Mequon," 15 Jan. 2020 The blue of a daytime sky is scattered away from your sight, while warmer reds and yellows become more prominent. Aj Willingham, CNN, "Bushfire heroes, a double twin story and an entertaining cuttlefish," 11 Jan. 2020 The plane's wreckage was scattered over a quarter-mile area. USA Today, "Calm after Iran missile strikes, then a fiery plane crash. Here's how the horror unfolded," 11 Jan. 2020 More of it is scattered through the atmosphere, reducing the overall intensity of direct light and thus increasing the amount of reflected light. Harry Guinness, Popular Science, "Light your photos like a pro," 9 Jan. 2020 The towers for Dallas/Forth Worth TV stations are in Cedar Hill, but their viewers are scattered all over northeast Texas. Jim Rossman, Dallas News, "Cord cutters: Do you know where to aim your antenna?," 9 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Onstage that year, a young Ella Fitzgerald forgot the words to her song, and the best scatter to ever live was born. New York Times, "Film: Tender Mercies in LaBeouf’s ‘Honey Boy’," 1 Nov. 2019 But unlike glass, a ceramic scatters this light instead of absorbing it. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, "New Technique Welds Ceramics with Lasers," 24 Nov. 2019 Then a flurry of waltzing snowflakes scatters across the stage. Phillip Valys,, "Winter forecast: 100 percent chance of (fake) snow in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach," 19 Nov. 2019 Senat visits the house during the day, but he and his family scatter by nightfall. Eileen Kelley,, "Burglar gets more than he bargained for: A homeowner with a machete, cops say," 6 Nov. 2019 The guards and officials all scatter, along with the other prisoner. Washington Post, "Lawyer: Honduran government could be behind prison murder," 29 Oct. 2019 Rhyme, which Howe scatters throughout the book, provides another. Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker, "Fanny Howe Makes Sense of Beginnings and Endings," 30 Sep. 2019 An ear of Mexican-style street corn hit the San Antonio sweet spot with queso fresco and tangy mayo, but most of all a crunchy scatter of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Mike Sutter,, "Review: Lucy Cooper’s Ice House at the top of San Antonio’s bar food scene," 12 Sep. 2019 Roughly chop the remaining 1/4 cup (25 grams) pistachios and scatter over the top. Becky Krystal, The Denver Post, "With their powers combined, strawberries, pistachios and olive oil make for one splendid cake," 4 Sep. 2019

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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Learn More about scatter

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

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Scatter.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 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

Comments on scatter

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


to express in a more acceptable way

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