[dis-pleys-muh nt]
See more synonyms for displacement on Thesaurus.com
  1. the act of displacing.
  2. the state of being displaced or the amount or degree to which something is displaced.
  3. Physics.
    1. the displacing in space of one mass by another.
    2. the weight or the volume of fluid displaced by a floating or submerged body.Compare Archimedes' principle.
    3. the linear or angular distance in a given direction between a body or point and a reference position.
    4. the distance of an oscillating body from its central position or point of equilibrium at any given moment.
  4. Machinery, Automotive.
    1. the volume of the space through which a piston travels during a single stroke in an engine, pump, or the like.
    2. the total volume of the space traversed by all the pistons.
  5. Nautical. the amount of water that a vessel displaces, expressed in displacement tons.
  6. Geology. the offset of rocks caused by movement along a fault.
  7. Psychoanalysis. the transfer of an emotion from its original focus to another object, person, or situation.
  8. electric displacement.

Origin of displacement

First recorded in 1605–15; displace + -ment
Related formspre·dis·place·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for displacement

shift, move, rearrangement, movement, deracination

Examples from the Web for displacement

Contemporary Examples of displacement

Historical Examples of displacement

British Dictionary definitions for displacement


  1. the act of displacing or the condition of being displaced
  2. the weight or volume displaced by a floating or submerged body in a fluid
  3. chem another name for substitution
  4. the volume displaced by the piston of a reciprocating pump or engine
  5. psychoanal the transferring of emotional feelings from their original object to one that disguises their real nature
  6. geology the distance any point on one side of a fault plane has moved in relation to a corresponding point on the opposite side
  7. astronomy an apparent change in position of a body, such as a star
  8. maths the distance measured in a particular direction from a reference pointSymbol: s
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 displacement

1610s, "removal from office;" see displace + -ment. Physics sense is from c.1810.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

displacement in Medicine


  1. Removal from the normal location or position.
  2. A defense mechanism in which there is an unconscious shift of emotions, affect, or desires from the original object to a more acceptable or immediate substitute.
  3. A chemical reaction in which an atom, a radical, or a molecule replaces another in a compound.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

displacement in Science


  1. Chemistry A chemical reaction in which an atom, radical, or molecule replaces another in a compound.
  2. Physics A vector, or the magnitude of a vector, that points from an initial position (of a body or reference frame) to a subsequent position.
  3. The weight or volume of a fluid displaced by a floating body, used especially as a measurement of the weight or bulk of ships.
  4. The volume displaced by a single stroke of a piston in an engine or pump.
  5. Geology
    1. The relative movement between the two sides of a geologic fault.
    2. The distance between the two sides of a fault. Also called dislocation
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.