scat·​ter·​ing | \ ˈska-tə-riŋ How to pronounce scattering (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from scattering


scatteringly \ ˈska-​tə-​riŋ-​lē How to pronounce scatteringly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for scattering

Synonyms: Noun

disbandment, dispersal, dispersion, dissipation

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Elsewhere, Louis Vuitton staged a comeback of sorts, and a scattering of indies held small but strong showings. Vogue, "Haute Couture Jewelry Report: A New Generation Alights," 9 July 2019 But how could gamma rays produced by annihilating dark matter in the core avoid scattering before escaping the sun? Quanta Magazine, "The Sun Is Stranger Than Astrophysicists Imagined," 1 May 2019 This year, dozens of states have bills proposing changes to daylight saving, and a scattering of states, including Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas have bills in progress to opt out of the shift entirely. Maya Wei-haas, National Geographic, "Tired of daylight saving time? These places are trying to end it.," 8 Mar. 2019 Cruz allegedly fired a single shot that struck Ortiz in the back, sending horrified patrons scattering. Travis Andersen,, "How it went down: Timeline of the shocking David Ortiz shooting in Santo Domingo," 18 June 2019 The lenses come with nano-fabricated coatings that reduce the scattering of light. Quanta Magazine, "Off-the-Shelf Lens Assists Dark Matter Find," 28 Sep. 2016 This was in 1907, when the city was a mere scattering of buildings around Murphy Park. Jen Fifield, azcentral, "Other similar buildings sold or demolished, this historic Glendale women's club was rebuilt," 12 June 2019 What amazes me is the scattering of twigs that have accumulated on the ground below the nest. Ernie Cowan Outdoors,, "Wrens much better than TV," 4 Apr. 2018 While the gown’s bodice was covered in decorative embellishments, the sleeves and skirt were entirely sheer, save for the scattering of black hearts along the delicate material. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Lily Collins Wears Sheer Elie Saab Gown to "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" European Premiere," 28 Apr. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of scattering


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scattering

Statistics for scattering

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scattering

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!