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scatter

[skat-er]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to throw loosely about; distribute at irregular intervals: to scatter seeds.
  2. to separate and drive off in various directions; disperse: to scatter a crowd.
  3. Physics.
    1. to refract or diffract (light or other electromagnetic radiation) irregularly so as to diffuse in many directions.
    2. (of a medium) to diffuse or deflect (light or other wave phenomena) by collisions between the wave and particles of the medium.
verb (used without object)
  1. to separate and disperse; go in different directions.
noun
  1. the act of scattering.
  2. something that is scattered.

Origin of scatter

1125–75; Middle English scatere; compare Dutch schateren to burst out laughing
Related formsscat·ter·a·ble, adjectivescat·ter·er, nounscat·ter·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms

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1. broadcast. See sprinkle. 2. Scatter, dispel, disperse, dissipate imply separating and driving something away so that its original form disappears. To scatter is to separate something tangible into parts at random, and drive these in different directions: The wind scattered leaves all over the lawn. To dispel is to drive away or scatter usually intangible things so that they vanish or cease to exist: Photographs of the race dispelled all doubts as to which horse won. To disperse is usually to cause a compact or organized tangible body to separate or scatter in different directions, to be reassembled if desired: Tear gas dispersed the mob. To dissipate is usually to scatter by dissolving or reducing to small atoms or parts that cannot be brought together again: He dissipated his money and his energy in useless activities.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for scatter

scatter

verb
  1. (tr) to throw about in various directions; strew
  2. to separate and move or cause to separate and move in various directions; disperse
  3. to deviate or cause to deviate in many directions, as in the diffuse reflection or refraction of light
noun
  1. the act of scattering
  2. a substance or a number of objects scattered about
Derived Formsscatterable, adjectivescatterer, noun

Word Origin

C13: probably a variant of shatter
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 scatter

v.

mid-12c. (transitive), possibly a northern English variant of Middle English schateren (see shatter), reflecting Norse influence. Intransitive sense from early 15c. Related: Scattered; scattering. As a noun from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

scatter in Medicine

scatter

([object Object])
v.
  1. To cause to separate and go in different directions.
  2. To separate and go in different directions; disperse.
  3. To deflect radiation or particles.
n.
  1. The act of scattering or the condition of being scattered.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.