upsetting or disquieting; dismaying: a disturbing increase in the crime rate.

Origin of disturbing

First recorded in 1585–95; disturb + -ing2
Related formsdis·turb·ing·ly, adverbnon·dis·turb·ing, adjectiveun·dis·turb·ing, adjectiveun·dis·turb·ing·ly, adverb



verb (used with object)

to interrupt the quiet, rest, peace, or order of; unsettle.
to interfere with; interrupt; hinder: Please do not disturb me when I'm working.
to interfere with the arrangement, order, or harmony of; disarrange: to disturb the papers on her desk.
to perplex; trouble: to be disturbed by strange behavior.

verb (used without object)

to cause disturbance to someone's sleep, rest, etc.: Do not disturb.

Origin of disturb

1175–1225; Middle English disto(u)rben, disturben < Anglo-French disto(u)rber, desturber < Latin disturbāre to demolish, upset, equivalent to dis- dis-1 + turbāre to confuse
Related formsdis·turb·er, nounpre·dis·turb, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for disturb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for disturbing

Contemporary Examples of disturbing

Historical Examples of disturbing

  • She shivered a little; then tossed her head as if to throw off the disturbing thoughts.


    William J. Locke

  • He was storm-tossed in the disturbing element; he could come to no satisfying conclusion.


    W. A. Fraser

  • But Doctor Eben was in no danger of disturbing Hetty in this way.

  • The sea-dragon cried: “Who is disturbing me here in my own kingdom?”

  • Again, as with my father, I felt that disturbing lack of faith in my work.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

British Dictionary definitions for disturbing



tending to upset or agitate; troubling; worrying
Derived Formsdisturbingly, adverb


verb (tr)

to intrude on; interrupt
to destroy or interrupt the quietness or peace of
to disarrange; muddle
(often passive) to upset or agitate; troubleI am disturbed at your bad news
to inconvenience; put outdon't disturb yourself on my account
Derived Formsdisturber, noun

Word Origin for disturb

C13: from Latin disturbāre, from dis- 1 + turbāre to confuse
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 disturbing



c.1300, "to stop or hinder," from Old French destorber (Old North French distourber) and directly from Latin disturbare "throw into disorder," from dis- "completely" (see dis-) + turbare "to disorder, disturb," from turba "turmoil" (see turbid).

Meaning "to frighten" is late 13c.; that of "to stir up, agitate" is c.1300. Related: Disturbed; disturbing; disturbingly. Middle English also had distourbler (n.) "one who disturbs or incites" (late 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper