Definition of disturb in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈstəːb/


[with object]
1Interfere with the normal arrangement or functioning of: take the rollers out carefully so as not to disturb the curls too much
More example sentences
  • These activities not only disturb bees but also interfere with normal pollen production, germination, and fertilization.
  • If this arrangement is disturbed, the body sickens; if it is sufficiently upset, the body dies.
  • A small interference with nature can disturb the entire balance.
disarrange, muddle, rearrange, disorganize, disorder, mix up, interfere with;
confuse, throw into disorder/confusion, derange, get into a tangle;
unsettle, convulse, turn upside down, make a mess of
2Interrupt the sleep, relaxation, or privacy of: I’ll see my patient now and we are not to be disturbed
More example sentences
  • They claim the children are disturbing their privacy by glaring into their homes and using the road as a cycle track.
  • And no one will be able to disturb the privacy of the bathroom, as the bottom of the window is a little higher than the tub.
  • But one day he disturbed her privacy and barged into her room, presumably to force more work on her, while she had it out.
interrupt, intrude on, butt in on, barge in on;
distract, interfere with, disrupt, bother, trouble, pester, plague, harass, molest
informal horn in on, hassle
3Make (someone) anxious: I am disturbed by the document I have just read
More example sentences
  • On one occasion she asked if a neighbour would buy her some drugs, which upset and disturbed the neighbour and her young son.
  • That was an anxious time, and the children were quite disturbed by it.
  • The state of the world concerns and disturbs many artists.
perturb, trouble, concern, worry, upset;
agitate, fluster, discomfit, disconcert, dismay, distress, discompose, unsettle, ruffle, stir up;
alarm, frighten, startle, shake;
confuse, bewilder, perplex, confound, daze, excite
worrying, perturbing, troubling, concerning, upsetting;
distressing, agitating, discomfiting, disconcerting, disquieting, unsettling, off-putting, dismaying, discomposing;
alarming, frightening, threatening, startling, devastating
informal gut-wrenching



Pronunciation: /dɪˈstəːbə/
Example sentences
  • At least the real disturbers aren't there, so they could do nothing without destroying anything.
  • Thinking that some of my friends were disturbers of my dreams I got out of bed and rushed to the window.
  • Implied was the image of a dissident, a disturber, and, by extension, a potential political threat.


Middle English: from Old French destourber, from Latin disturbare, from dis- 'utterly' + turbare 'disturb' (from turba 'tumult').

  • trouble from Middle English:

    Our word trouble comes, by way of Old French truble, from Latin turbidus ‘disturbed, turbid’, source of turbid (early 17th century), and related to disturb (Middle English), perturb (Late Middle English), and turbulent (mid 16th century). From the start, in the 13th century, it meant ‘difficulty or problems’. ‘Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward’ is from the biblical book of Job who was a virtuous man that God tested by sending him many troubles. Most people now think of the Troubles in Northern Ireland as beginning in the early 1970s, but the same term applied to the unrest around the partition of Ireland in 1921, and in an 1880 glossary of words used in Antrim and Down the Troubles are defined as ‘the Irish rebellion of 1641’. The first troubleshooters had a very specific occupation. In the early years of the 20th century they mended faults on telegraph or telephone lines.

Words that rhyme with disturb

acerb, blurb, curb, herb, kerb, perturb, Serb, superb, verb

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dis|turb

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