scat·ter·ing | \ ˈska-tə-riŋ \

Definition of scattering 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an act or process in which something scatters or is scattered

2 : something scattered: such as

a : a small number or quantity interspersed here and there a scattering of visitors

b : the random change in direction of the particles constituting a beam or wave front due to collision with particles of the medium traversed



Definition of scattering (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : going in various directions

2 : found or placed far apart and in no order

3 : divided among many or several scattering votes

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Other words from scattering


scatteringly \ˈska-tə-riŋ-lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for scattering

Synonyms: Noun

couple, few, handful, scatter, smatter, smattering, sprinkle, sprinkling

Antonyms: Noun

army, crowd, flock, horde, host, legion, loads, many, mountain, multitude, oodles, scads

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Examples of scattering in a Sentence


the scattering of the protesters suddenly turned violent and chaotic a scattering of people in the mostly empty theater

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

These surface states contain electrons that are protected from scattering off of defects. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Many rings, not one, create a laser to confound us all," 2 Feb. 2018 Westfield, meanwhile, is home to an emerging restaurant scene; a scattering of other quaint small communities round out the county’s diverse population while still leaving room for farmland. Shelley Specchio, Indianapolis Star, "Discovering Indianapolis’ vibrant neighborhoods: Hamilton County," 29 June 2018 While this scattering of clues are in meteorites that have already reached Earth, there are plenty more up there circling our star. Jamie Seidel, Fox News, "Wild new alien theory emerges," 28 June 2018 Once the flames subside, a scattering of herbs brings the production to a close. Charlotte Druckman, WSJ, "Steak Diane: So Retro, So Right Now," 7 June 2018 Spradley has seen similar scattering by vultures at her Texas body farm. Rob O'dell, azcentral, "What dead pigs can teach us about missing bodies in the Arizona desert," 5 July 2018 That left organizers no choice but to call it a night, although the announcement from the chair umpire led to a scattering of boos from some fans who clearly wanted more. Mattias Karen,, "Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal to finish their Wimbledon semifinal Saturday," 13 July 2018 City Plaza: This public space along Reno’s Riverwalk has a scattering of Burning Man sculptures. Harriot Manley,, "Burning Man comes and goes, but the experience is year-round in Reno," 28 June 2018 But there’s also a scattering of Asian statuary, a huge bronze dragon that presides over the hotel’s circular drive, and two fierce Chinese lions painted a lurid shade of pink. Jody Rosen, Smithsonian, "This Secret Corner of California Is a Paradise for Lovers of Great Food and Top-Notch Wines," 14 June 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for scattering

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

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More Definitions for scattering



English Language Learners Definition of scattering

: a small number or group of things or people that are seen or found at different places or times



Medical Definition of scattering 

: the random change in direction of the particles constituting a beam or wave front due to collision with particles of the medium traversed

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Comments on scattering

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


alleviating pain or harshness

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