dis·​tur·​bance di-ˈstər-bən(t)s How to pronounce disturbance (audio)
plural disturbances
: the act of disturbing someone or something : the state of being disturbed: such as
: an interruption of a state of peace, quiet, or calm
His choler rose in proportion to the surprise, and, perhaps, to the disturbance of his repose. Sir Walter Scott
… a caller reported loud music causing a disturbance Saugus (Massachusetts) Advertiser
They were charged with disturbance of the peace.
: an interference with or alteration in a planned, ordered, or usual procedure, state, or habit
He was still suffering from this sudden disturbance of the quiet routine of his life. Arthur Conan Doyle
Impacts inflicted by mining … include … disturbance of wildlife habitat … Todd Wilkinson
: a moving out of place
Bruce was particular about his things and would notice any slight disturbance to his stuff … Tegan Quin
These latter circumstances … may, I think, be accounted for, by the disturbance of the mud at the bottom of the sea … Charles Darwin
: a departure from a norm or standard : a deviation, disruption, or impairment in form, function, or activity
sleep disturbances
endocrine disturbances
Once identified as having an emotional disturbance with associated behavior problems, it's considered best practice for the child to get a behavior intervention plan … Patrick Skahil and David Desroches
Identifying coronavirus' economic effects combined with other major economic disturbances requires accurate data … Bruce Yandle
: noisy or violent activity : commotion
Police responding to complaints of a loud disturbance in a parking lot … found 15 to 20 teenagers gathered … R. Robin McDonald
: a local variation from the average or normal wind conditions

Example Sentences

She doesn't want any more disturbances while she is studying. He reacts badly to disturbance of his daily routine. Fish are able to detect even slight disturbances in the water. Disturbance of the river's sediment causes cloudy water. Neighbors called the police to report a disturbance. They were arrested for creating a disturbance. The violence that soldiers experience in war can lead to emotional disturbance in later years. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Her challenges include cortical visual impairment, global developmental delays, severe autism, seizures, speech disturbance, and feeding problems. Ellen Bartlett, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Nov. 2022 For example, Stanford Medicine research found in 2021 that insulin resistance can double the risk for major depression, and bring symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbance, and loss of appetite—all of which can impact blood-sugar regulation. Elizabeth Millard, Time, 28 Oct. 2022 Quantum particles are extremely delicate and have the propensity to malfunction at the slightest disturbance, such as a vibration or temperature change, so sending them over long, real-world distances is tricky. Jeanne Whalen, Washington Post, 9 Oct. 2022 The National Hurricane Center said upper-level winds were keeping the disturbance, Invest 98L, from getting its act together. Leigh Morgan, al, 22 Sep. 2022 For some historians and archaeologists, disturbance of the wreck site—in particular the removal of artifacts—raises ethical concerns. Michelle Harris, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Sep. 2022 Late Wednesday, a sheriff’s deputy in central Florida was shot but saved by a bulletproof vest while investigating a report of a family disturbance at a home. Dave Collins And Jennifer Peltz, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Oct. 2022 Late Wednesday, a sheriff's deputy in central Florida was shot in the chest while investigating a report of a family disturbance at a home. CBS News, 13 Oct. 2022 According to the criminal complaint: Mequon officers were alerted to a 911 call of disturbance on Oct. 2 at around 1:38 a.m. to a Mequon home. Alex Groth, Journal Sentinel, 11 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disturbance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of disturbance was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near disturbance

Cite this Entry

“Disturbance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disturbance. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



: the act of disturbing
: mental confusion : upset
: public commotion : disorder

Medical Definition



dis·​tur·​bance dis-ˈtər-bən(t)s How to pronounce disturbance (audio)
: a deviation, disruption, or impairment in form, function, or activity
visual disturbances
disturbances of metabolism
Emotional disturbance is one of the 13 disabilities schools use to identify students who may receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, the federal special education law. Howard Weiss-Tisman, Brattleboro (Vermont) Reformer

Legal Definition



: an interruption of peace or order
specifically : an interruption of the quiet enjoyment of one's property

More from Merriam-Webster on disturbance

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