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 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

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 Top it with a scattering of their red onion and habanero mixture and a few hits of lime and salsa . Ben Mesirow,, "Head to this Mexicali-style taco truck in East L.A. for barbacoa-stuffed vampiros and fresh flour tortillas," 2 July 2018 Fred Trump, one of the most prolific New York developers of his time, owned just five apartment complexes, two small strip malls and a scattering of co-ops in the city upon his death. Susanne Craig, The Seattle Times, "Trump engaged in suspect tax schemes as he reaped riches from father," 2 Oct. 2018 By then, the shelves were mostly bare, except for a scattering of stuffed animals, tween jewelry and polyester pillows. Michael Corkery, New York Times, "At Toys ‘R’ Us, ‘There Is Nothing Left’: The Day It Closed for Good," 30 June 2018 And plenty of work has been done to use this as a method to correct for light scattering so that medical imaging using visible and near-infrared light can reach deeper into the body. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Big picture? Details? New imaging system offers both," 2 Feb. 2018 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

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

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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