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

Some gardens also offer an area for scattering remains. Cindy Heflin, Detroit Free Press, "Metro Detroit cemeteries shift toward unique final resting place: Cremation gardens," 12 Sep. 2019 Scientists call this scattering, a term used to describe the redirection of light by small particles. David Williams, CNN, "The sky turned purple over Florida as Hurricane Dorian passed by," 5 Sep. 2019 In particular, the team harnessed the power of earthquakes that rung Earth like a bell, sending waves all the way through our planet and back again, to look at scattering from its interior structures. National Geographic, "Rugged 'mountains' taller than Everest lurk deep inside Earth," 25 Mar. 2019 If a volcanic eruption launches enough sulfur into the stratosphere, this scattering of light can cause the entire planet to cool temporarily by diverting more sunlight into space. Alex Fox, Science | AAAS, "This sulfur-spewing Russian volcano is turning sunsets purple," 13 Sep. 2019 At the edge of the crowd was a scattering of yellow–a small group of anti-vaccine mothers in yellow vests, an apparent nod to France’s gilets jaunes, the populist economic movement. Time, "'They’re Chipping Away.' Inside the Grassroots Effort to Fight Mandatory Vaccines," 13 June 2019 What had been a scattering of small towns is now a major metropolitan area housing around four million people. Stanley Reed, New York Times, "From Oil to Solar: Saudi Arabia Plots a Shift to Renewables," 5 Feb. 2018 Almost every person throughout the existence of humankind has looked up at the night sky and seen more than just a random scattering of light. Simon Cropper, Quartz, "Why do different cultures see such similar meanings in the stars?," 21 Aug. 2019 This is chilled and given a squeeze of lemon juice and a scattering of fresh flat-leaf parsley before serving. Jeff Koehler, Twin Cities, "With these Moroccan salads, vegetables come first — and in dazzling abundance," 8 Aug. 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.

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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

7 Oct 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

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