[ dahy-as-per-uh, dee- ]
/ daɪˈæs pər ə, di- /
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Origin of diaspora

First recorded in 1690–1700; from Greek diasporá “scattering, dispersion”; see origin at dia-, spore

historical usage of diaspora

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 17th century to describe the communities of urban, observant Jews who lived in the larger cities of the Roman Empire (e.g., Rome, Alexandria, Antioch) and were proselytized by the first generation of Christians (i.e., the Apostles and their disciples) in the mid-first century a.d. The Jewish Diaspora (often capitalized) began with the deportation of Israelites by the Assyrian and Babylonian kings in the 8th, 7th, and 5th centuries b.c.
The term originates from Greek diasporá, meaning “a dispersion or scattering,” found in Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible (Deuteronomy 28:25, Psalms 146 or 147:2) and in the New Testament (Gospel of St. John 7:35). While this specific historical sense is still used, especially in scholarly writing, modern-day definitions of the Jewish Diaspora 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.”

popular references for diaspora

—“To the Diaspora”: A 1981 poem by African American poet Gwendolyn Brooks.
Diaspora: A 1997 science fiction novel by Australian author Greg Egan.


di·as·po·ric [dahy-uh-spawr-ik, ‐spor-ik], /ˌdaɪ əˈspɔr ɪk, ‐ˈspɒr ɪk/, adjective

Quotations related to diaspora

  • "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)
  • "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)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for diaspora

British Dictionary definitions for diaspora

/ (daɪˈæspərə) /


  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 for Diaspora

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