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 disturbanceSaugus (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 Domestic disturbance calls are some of the most dangerous for law enforcement officers to handle. Shira Moolten, Sun Sentinel, 6 Jan. 2023 Police responded to a domestic disturbance between a woman and her daughter at 2:31 p.m. Nov. 25 and one of the women was arrested on an unrelated warrant for failing to appear in court for a traffic offense. Brian Lisik, cleveland, 27 Dec. 2022 The deployment, according to El Paso Matters, includes the Security Response Force of the 606th Military Police Battalion, which is trained in civil disturbance operations and mass migration response. Dallas News, 19 Dec. 2022 Even though Hackett, who is Black, was the victim, the Sheriff’s Department notified her landlord about the numerous domestic disturbance calls and threatened the landlord with a misdemeanor under the crime-free housing law, prosecutors said. Los Angeles Times, 14 Dec. 2022 Police responded to a report at a Lincoln residence of a domestic disturbance. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, 1 Dec. 2022 Police said they had been called to an earlier domestic disturbance involving Brooks and an ex-girlfriend. Phil Helsel, NBC News, 16 Nov. 2022 Captain Adam Hennie is one of the deputy commanders of the civil disturbance response team. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, 10 Aug. 2022 He was promoted in April to run the Special Operations Division, overseeing tactical officers, civil-disturbance units, domestic security, traffic safety and special events, which includes planning and handling large-scale demonstrations. Clarence Williams, Washington Post, 17 July 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 2 Feb. 2023.

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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