- to drive or send off in various directions; scatter: to disperse a crowd.
- to spread widely; disseminate: to disperse knowledge.
- to dispel; cause to vanish: The wind dispersed the fog.
- Physical Chemistry. to cause (particles) to separate uniformly throughout a solid, liquid, or gas.
- Optics. to subject (light) to dispersion.
- to separate and move apart in different directions without order or regularity; become scattered: The crowd dispersed.
- to be dispelled; be scattered out of sight; vanish: The smoke dispersed into the sky.
- Physical Chemistry. noting the dispersed particles in a dispersion.
Origin of disperse
1350–1400; Middle English dispersen, disparsen (< Middle French disperser) < Latin dispersus (past participle of dispergere), equivalent to di- di-2 + -sper(g)- scatter (stem of -spergere, combining form of spargere to scatter, strew) + -sus past participle suffix
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. See scatter. 2. sow, broadcast. 7. disappear, evanesce.
1. combine, collect.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for disperse
At about 11 p.m. State Police started flying a helicopter over the scene, ordering the crowds to disperse.Frat Culture Clashes With Riot Police at Keene, N.H., Pumpkin Festival
October 19, 2014
This is a problem, since no traffic police can identify any of the trucks if they start to disperse once they enter Ukraine.Putin’s “Humanitarian” Convoy Nears Ukraine, APCs Cross in Secret
August 14, 2014
When a big cache of weapons is inbound, rival outfits often gang together to disperse the load among their safe houses.On the Contraband Trail With Libya’s Gun Smugglers
June 16, 2014
“Instead of car tires, concrete blocks are placed there now, and nobody intends to disperse,” the minister said.Reality Check in Ukraine
April 27, 2014
The crowd bawls its approval, but begins to disperse after one encore.Stacks: Hitting the Note with the Allman Brothers Band
March 15, 2014
Once afoot, it was not long before the company began to disperse.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
A little later the crowd at the swimming place began to disperse.
"There's one point we almost overlooked," said Frank, just as the chums were about to disperse.
They lift up their hands to disperse the grains of the sand-storm.A Spirit in Prison
They say to hit the waterspout in the centre where it joins the other from below will disperse it.Standish of Standish
Jane G. Austin
- to scatter; distribute over a wide area
- to dissipate or cause to dissipate
- to leave or cause to leave a gathering, often in a random manner
- to separate or be separated by dispersion
- (tr) to diffuse or spread (news, information, etc)
- to separate (particles) throughout a solid, liquid, or gas, as in the formation of a suspension or colloid
- of or consisting of the particles in a colloid or suspensiondisperse phase
C14: from Latin dispērsus scattered, from dispergere to scatter widely, from di- ² + spargere to strew
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
Word Origin and History for disperse
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- To cause to separate and move in different directions; scatter.
- To cause to vanish or disappear.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.