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

Other Words from scatter


scatterer \ ˈska-​tər-​ər How to pronounce scatter (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
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the past two weeks, police officers have begun arriving in the middle of the night to disperse larger encampments and scatter them across the city. Karen Hao, WSJ, 10 May 2022 Pour the sauce over the scallops and scatter the radish slices on top. G. Daniela Galarza, Washington Post, 2 June 2022 Her family chose to travel to Colorado and scatter her brother’s remains in a national park, a celebration that still resonates almost three decades later. Karen Heller, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Apr. 2022 Now the war threatens to cut off the supply of medications and scatter the participants, making their health records harder or impossible to track. Grace Browne, Wired, 14 Mar. 2022 Then, in a small bowl, toss the tomatoes in a splash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and then scatter over the lettuce. New York Times, 31 Aug. 2021 After they were gone, Trish couldn’t bring herself to scatter their ashes. Johnny Runnette, Los Angeles Times, 20 May 2022 And Just Like That finale that aired last month, Carrie traveled to Paris to scatter the ashes of her late husband, Mr. Big (Noth), Miranda jetted off to Los Angeles with Che (Ramírez), and Charlotte navigated parenthood to a non-binary child. Jessica Wang,, 22 Mar. 2022 Four Xavier pitchers combined to scatter seven hits as the Musketeers defeated the UConn baseball team 7-2 in the opener of a three-game Big East Conference series at Elliot Ballpark. Hartford Courant, 13 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One application is to engineer windows that not only scatter light but also trap its heat. Brittney J. Miller, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 June 2022 Remove skillet from heat and scatter basil over everything. Andy Baraghani, WSJ, 20 May 2022 The only light that reaches the moon's surface is from the edges of the Earth's atmosphere and the air molecules from the Earth's atmosphere scatter out most of the blue light. Julia Musto, Fox News, 13 May 2022 Thermobaric weapons, which are considered particularly destructive, release a mix of components that scatter and ignite, creating a massive explosion. WSJ, 28 May 2022 The children scatter and a girl who is part of the group falls backward on the sidewalk and begins screaming. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 25 May 2022 Slice each flatbread into wedges and serve topped with a scatter of baby arugula. Claudia Catalano,, 24 May 2022 But ionized electrons and protons in interstellar space scatter the radio waves into a blur that obscures details of the source. New York Times, 12 May 2022 In this scatter of towns and villages less than an hour’s drive from the capital, cleanup and reconstruction are already proceeding briskly. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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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Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scatter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for scatter


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.


transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on scatter

Nglish: Translation of scatter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scatter for Arabic Speakers


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