[ skat-er ]
See synonyms for: scatterscatteredscatteringscatters on

verb (used with object)
  1. to throw loosely about; distribute at irregular intervals: to scatter seeds.

  2. to separate and drive off in various directions; disperse: to scatter a crowd.

  1. Physics.

    • 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.

verb (used without object)
  1. to separate and disperse; go in different directions.

  1. the act of scattering.

  2. something that is scattered.

Origin of scatter

First recorded in 1125–75; Middle English scatere; compare Dutch schateren “to burst out laughing”

synonym study For scatter

1. 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.

Other words for scatter

Other words from scatter

  • scat·ter·a·ble, adjective
  • scat·ter·er, noun
  • scat·ter·ing·ly, adverb

Words Nearby scatter Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use scatter in a sentence

  • scatter half the rub over the surface of the meat and then use your fingers to distribute the rub evenly.

    An American Prairie Feast | Sophie Menin | July 17, 2010 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • scatter the fennel and the whole cloves of garlic around the chicken.

  • scatter a little dust on your head—a very little—not enough to dim the lustre on your hair.

    Sarchedon | G. J. (George John) Whyte-Melville
  • scatter thinly on the outside and in the trench, but on the inside place more liberally.

    Deadfalls and Snares | A. R. (Arthur Robert) Harding
  • scatter all the rails, plates, and ties down our side of the slope.

    A Tatter of Scarlet | S. R. Crockett
  • scatter-brained and "afternoon" men spoil much more than their own affair in spoiling the temper of those who deal with them.

    Essays, First Series | Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!

    The Story of Florence | Edmund G. Gardner

British Dictionary definitions for scatter


/ (ˈskætə) /

  1. (tr) to throw about in various directions; strew

  2. to separate and move or cause to separate and move in various directions; disperse

  1. to deviate or cause to deviate in many directions, as in the diffuse reflection or refraction of light

  1. the act of scattering

  2. a substance or a number of objects scattered about

Origin of scatter

C13: probably a variant of shatter

Derived forms of scatter

  • scatterable, adjective
  • scatterer, noun

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