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[dahy-as-per-uh, dee-] /daɪˈæs pər ə, di-/
(usually initial capital letter) the scattering of the Jews to countries outside of Palestine after the Babylonian captivity.
(often initial capital letter) the body of Jews living in countries outside Israel.
(often initial capital letter) such countries collectively:
the return of the Jews from the Diaspora.
any group migration or flight from a country or region.
Antonyms: return.
any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily, as Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
any religious group living as a minority among people of the prevailing religion.
the spread or dissemination of something originally confined to a local, homogeneous group, as a language or cultural institution:
the diaspora of English as a global language.
Origin of diaspora
First recorded in 1875-80, diaspora is from the Greek word diasporá a dispersion. See dia-, spore
Related forms
[dahy-uh-spawr-ik, ‐spor-ik] /ˌdaɪ əˈspɔr ɪk, ‐ˈspɒr ɪk/ (Show IPA),
Word story
The history of the term diaspora shows how a word's meaning can spread from a very specific sense to encompass much broader ones.
Diaspora first entered English in the late 19th century to describe the scattering of Jews after their captivity in Babylonia in the 5th century B.C.E. The term originates from the Greek diasporá, meaning “a dispersion or scattering,” found in Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible (Deuteronomy 25). While this specific historical sense is still used, especially in scholarly writing, modern-day definitions of the Jewish Diaspora (often with an initial capital letter) can refer to the displacement of Jews at other times during their history, especially after the Holocaust in the 20th century. The term can also refer generally to Jews living today outside of Israel.
Diaspora also has been applied to the similar experiences of other peoples who have been forced from their homelands; for example, to the trans-Atlantic passage of Africans under the slave trade of the 17th through 19th centuries, which has been called the African Diaspora.
More recently, we find a scattering of the meaning of diaspora, which can now be used to refer not only to a group of people, but also to some aspect of their culture, as in “the global diaspora of American-style capitalism.”
Related Quotations
“In the rest of the diaspora, persecution gave the Jews no respite, but in Babylonia, under Persian rule, they lived for some centuries comparatively free from molestation.“
—Simon Dubnow and J. Friedlander, Jewish History (1903)
“[I]t became…misleading to see the American Jewish community as part of the diaspora at all. Jews in America felt themselves more American than Jews in Israel felt themselves Israeli.“
—Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1998)
“The most traumatic, of course, was the African Diaspora, when entire nations, after enduring captivity and enslavement, were subjected to a perilous journey across the Atlantic to the Americas, where they were sold at auction and forced to labour on sugar, cotton, and coffee plantations.“
—Miriam DeCosta-Willis, Daughters of the Diaspora: Afra-Hispanic Writers (2003)
“That English has developed a number of varieties in its diaspora is also beyond debate.“
—Eli Hinkel, Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning, Volume 2 (2011) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Contemporary Examples
British Dictionary definitions for diasporic


  1. the dispersion of the Jews after the Babylonian and Roman conquests of Palestine
  2. the Jewish communities outside Israel
  3. the Jews living outside Israel
  4. the extent of Jewish settlement outside Israel
(in the New Testament) the body of Christians living outside Palestine
(often not capital) a dispersion or spreading, as of people originally belonging to one nation or having a common culture
(Caribbean) the descendants of Sub-Saharan African peoples living anywhere in the Western hemisphere
Word Origin
C19: from Greek: a scattering, from diaspeirein to disperse, from dia- + speirein to scatter, sow; see spore
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for diasporic



1876, from Greek diaspora "dispersion," from diaspeirein "to scatter about, disperse," from dia- "about, across" (see dia-) + speirein "to scatter" (see sprout). The Greek word was used in Septuagint in Deut. xxviii:25. A Hebrew word for it is galuth "exile." Related: Diasporic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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