- to throw loosely about; distribute at irregular intervals: to scatter seeds.
- to separate and drive off in various directions; disperse: to scatter a crowd.
- to refract or diffract (light or other electromagnetic radiation) irregularly so as to diffuse in many directions.
- (of a medium) to diffuse or deflect (light or other wave phenomena) by collisions between the wave and particles of the medium.
- to separate and disperse; go in different directions.
Origin of scatter
1125–75; Middle English scatere; compare Dutch schateren to burst out laughing
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
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
Examples from the Web for scatter
Scatter half the rub over the surface of the meat and then use your fingers to distribute the rub evenly.An American Prairie Feast
July 17, 2010
Scatter the fennel and the whole cloves of garlic around the chicken.Roast Chicken, Eggplant Pancakes, Cranberry-Walnut Tart
The Daily Beast
December 23, 2008
Scatter the fires at once and extinguish the blazing brands.The Cat of Bubastes
G. A. Henty
Scatter the redcoats, drive them off the island, hurl them into the river!The Liberty Boys Running the Blockade
Scatter my ashes to all the winds—spread them through all seas.Short Studies on Great Subjects
James Anthony Froude
I could sing 'Scatter seeds of kindness' and 'Yield not to temptation.'An Australian Lassie
Our motto is "Scatter Sunshine," and our song is the prettiest music I ever heard.The Lilac Lady
Ruth Alberta Brown
- (tr) to throw about in various directions; strew
- to separate and move or cause to separate and move in various directions; disperse
- to deviate or cause to deviate in many directions, as in the diffuse reflection or refraction of light
- the act of scattering
- a substance or a number of objects scattered about
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
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- To cause to separate and go in different directions.
- To separate and go in different directions; disperse.
- To deflect radiation or particles.
- 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.