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  1. the act of disturbing.
  2. the state of being disturbed.
  3. an instance of this; commotion.
  4. something that disturbs.
  5. an outbreak of disorder; a breach of public peace: Political disturbances shook the city.
  6. Meteorology. any cyclonic storm or low-pressure area, usually a small one.
  7. Geology. a crustal movement of moderate intensity, somewhat restricted in area.
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Origin of disturbance

1250–1300; Middle English disto(u)rbance < Anglo-French, Old French. See disturb, -ance
Related formsnon·dis·turb·ance, nounpre·dis·turb·ance, noun


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Synonym study

2. See agitation. 5. See disorder.


3. order.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for disturbance


  1. the act of disturbing or the state of being disturbed
  2. an interruption or intrusion
  3. an unruly outburst or tumult
  4. law an interference with another's rights
  5. geology
    1. a minor movement of the earth causing a small earthquake
    2. a minor mountain-building event
  6. meteorol a small depression
  7. psychiatry a mental or emotional disorder
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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 disturbance


late 13c., "mental distress," from Old French destorbance (12c., Old North French distorbance), from destourber, from Latin disturbare (see disturb). Meaning "public disturbance" is c.1300; that of "destruction of peace or unity" is late 14c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper