Word of the Day : December 2, 2017


verb in-ter-SPERSS


1 : to place something at intervals in or among

2 : to insert at intervals among other things

Did You Know?

Intersperse derives from Latin interspersus, formed by combining the familiar prefix inter- ("between or among") with sparsus, the past participle of spargere, meaning "to scatter." In sparsus one finds an ancestor to our adjective sparse, as well as a relative of spark. (The relationship of spark to a word that describes something being scattered about makes sense when you think of sparks bursting or scattering off a flame.) Intersperse is often followed by the preposition with, as in "a straggling street of comfortable white and red houses, interspersed with abundant shady trees" (from H. G.  Wells' 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds).


The author has interspersed the guidebook with illustrations of the different birds we might encounter on the safari tour.

"Interspersed throughout the beds of deliberately overgrown azaleas, roses, and hydrangeas is the world's largest private collection of sculptures…. — Harper's, 18 Apr. 2017

Word Family Quiz

What verb derives from Latin spargere ("to scatter") and can mean "to sprinkle with holy water" or "to attack with false charges"?



More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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