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

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Other Words from scattering


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

Synonyms for scattering

Synonyms: Noun

disbandment, dispersal, dispersion, dissipation

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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

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 In particular, there are some types of scattering that are hard to detect in traditional particle detectors. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Baby gravitational wave detector could find a home at the LHC," 3 Oct. 2018 Hong's team discovered that the vast majority — about 80 to 90 percent — of the moons around giant exoplanets are removed from their original homes by planet-planet scattering. Charles Q. Choi,, "Wandering Rogue Moons May Be As Common As Stars," 19 Mar. 2018 Truly ancient wrecks like this one usually leave behind only a scattering of amphorae, ballast stones, or broken pottery on the seafloor to tell the tale. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "This ancient Greek ship is the oldest intact shipwreck ever discovered," 24 Oct. 2018 The scattering results uncovered by the researchers will need to be taken into account in those experiments as well. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "High-energy protons emitted after hooking up with neutrons," 16 Aug. 2018 That image supports the view that researchers have collectively leaned toward in recent years: the Maya were not a scattering of isolated, warring city-states living off slash-and-burn farms. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "What 61,000 hidden structures reveal about Maya civilization," 28 Sep. 2018 Maduro's speech was abruptly cut short and soldiers could be seen breaking ranks and scattering. Scott Smith, Fox News, "Venezuelan government: Drone strikes targeted Maduro," 4 Aug. 2018 These Kings have had trouble scattering as successfully against a Vegas team that has a No. 1 line and little drop-off on the other three lines, plus third-leading scorer David Perron back to help its heavy forechecking style. Curtis Zupke,, "Facing elimination, Kings will try to slip into their pest mode against Golden Knights in Game 4," 17 Apr. 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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Statistics for scattering

Last Updated

6 May 2019

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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).


one that collects or salvages junk

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