Definition of disperse in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈspəːs/


[with object]
1Distribute or spread over a wide area: storms can disperse seeds via high altitudes caravan sites could be dispersed among trees so as to be out of sight
More example sentences
  • Suburban office and industrial parks and shopping centers competed successfully with central business districts, dispersing economic activity over wide areas.
  • The heat from the fire causes the pine cones to explode, dispersing seed over a wide area.
  • When confronted with those distributions, many of us probably reason that some species indeed are dispersed over a wide area on the wintering grounds.
scatter, disseminate, distribute, spread, broadcast, diffuse, strew, sow, sprinkle, pepper
literary bestrew, besprinkle
1.1Go or cause to go in different directions: [no object]: the crowd dispersed [with object]: the police used tear gas to disperse the protesters
More example sentences
  • Once they were through clapping, the crowd dispersed into different directions.
  • Interior minister Francois Boko said soldiers had fired warning shots to disperse a crowd of protesters who had surrounded their vehicle in the neighbourhood of Be, an opposition stronghold.
  • A handful of local people get off the bus, dispersing in different directions.
break up, split up, disband, separate, scatter, leave, go their separate ways, go in different directions;
dispel, drive away, drive off, chase away, put to flight, banish, get rid of
rare disunite
1.2(With reference to gas, smoke, mist, or cloud) thin out or cause to thin out and disappear: [no object]: the earlier mist had dispersed [with object]: winds dispersed the radioactive cloud high in the atmosphere
More example sentences
  • The sun had gone, I was too late in the day, and the mist had risen and dispersed, coating the sky an even grey.
  • Aerobic activities like cross-country skiing demand thin layers that rapidly disperse sweat and body heat - keeping you cool, not warm.
  • The location could not have been better: within easy reach of Washington, yet protected by the Allegheny mountains and with prevailing winds from Canada to disperse any radiation.
dissipate, be dispelled, thin out, dissolve, melt away, fade away, vanish, disappear, clear, lift, rise
1.3 Physics Divide (light) into constituents of different wavelengths: the ability of a material to disperse light by refraction
More example sentences
  • A flat slab of the stuff would focus light, rather than dispersing it, as normal materials would.
  • Light at each end of the optical spectrum is dispersed by a different amount, since the refractive index of any medium depends on frequency.
  • When a source (such as the sun) gives off light, that light can be dispersed into a rainbow spectrum by a prism or diffraction grating.


[attributive] Chemistry
Denoting a phase dispersed in another phase, as in a colloid: emulsions should be examined after storage for droplet size of the disperse phase
More example sentences
  • The particles are referred to as the disperse phase while the other phase is termed the dispersion medium or continuous phase.
  • Technically, the liquid which forms droplets is known as the disperse phase, and the liquid in which these drops are scattered is known as the dispersion medium.
  • The colloidal particles of the disperse phase are equivalent to the solute of a solution and the continuous phase is equivalent to the solvent.



Example sentences
  • Many juveniles (mainly short-distance dispersers; data not shown) made exploratory trips before dispersal, usually of distances of less than 1 km from the birth site.
  • In particular, they may attract a diverse array of seed dispersers by offering an essential, but scarce micronutrient.
  • I ranked the fatness of dispersers (in the year before they dispersed) and the fatness of other workers of similar length in the colonies from which they dispersed.


Example sentences
  • It is especially common in soils that have high expansion rates and/or highly dispersible clay minerals, and in locations which experience intense sequences of wet and dry periods.
  • He has huge quantities of a nasty and virulent form of the anthrax virus, and is currently engaged in further developing the more easily dispersible and effective dry micro-powder forms.
  • To minimize this problem, chemical companies developed the dry flowable and water dispersible granular formulations.


Pronunciation: /dɪˈspəːsɪv/
Example sentences
  • This signal at extended wavelengths outside of absorbance bands is characteristic of the dispersive part of differential light scattering.
  • Reduce the risk of chemical bums by preventing antiseptic agents from pooling under the patient, electrosurgical unit dispersive pad, electrodes, or pneumatic tourniquets.
  • It is clear from our studies that although dispersive light scattering perturbs band intensities, neither absorption flattening nor differential scattering is sufficient to account for these changes.


Late Middle English: from Latin dispers- 'scattered', from the verb dispergere, from dis- 'widely' + spargere 'scatter, strew'.

  • aspersion from Late Middle English:

    To engage in casting aspersions is almost literally mud-slinging. Aspersion originally meant ‘sprinkling water or other liquid on someone’, especially in baptism, and came from Latin spargere ‘to sprinkle’ (the root of disperse (Late Middle English) ‘scatter widely’, and intersperse (mid 16th century) ‘sprinkle between’). Sprinkling a person with water developed into the idea of spattering them with something less pleasant, such as mud or dung. This in turn led to the notion of soiling a person's reputation by making false and damaging insinuations against them. See also slur

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dis|perse

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