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[dih-spurs] /dɪˈspɜrs/
verb (used with object), dispersed, dispersing.
to drive or send off in various directions; scatter:
to disperse a crowd.
to spread widely; disseminate:
to disperse knowledge.
to dispel; cause to vanish:
The wind dispersed the fog.
Physical Chemistry. to cause (particles) to separate uniformly throughout a solid, liquid, or gas.
Optics. to subject (light) to dispersion.
verb (used without object), dispersed, dispersing.
to separate and move apart in different directions without order or regularity; become scattered:
The crowd dispersed.
to be dispelled; be scattered out of sight; vanish:
The smoke dispersed into the sky.
Physical Chemistry. noting the dispersed particles in a dispersion.
Origin of disperse
1350-1400; Middle English dispersen, disparsen (< Middle French disperser) < Latin dispersus (past participle of dispergere), equivalent to di- di-2 + -sper(g)- scatter (stem of -spergere, combining form of spargere to scatter, strew) + -sus past participle suffix
Related forms
[dih-spur-sid-lee] /dɪˈspɜr sɪd li/ (Show IPA),
disperser, noun
dispersibility, noun
dispersible, adjective
predisperse, verb (used with object), predispersed, predispersing.
redisperse, verb, redispersed, redispersing.
undispersed, adjective
undispersing, adjective
well-dispersed, adjective
Can be confused
disperse, disburse.
disperse, dispose.
1. See scatter. 2. sow, broadcast. 7. disappear, evanesce.
1. combine, collect. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for disperse
  • Protective padding, clothing, and helmets disperse the impact of falls.
  • Campus officers called in the Lewiston police for assistance, but some partiers still refused to disperse.
  • Police had to disperse them.
  • Just before serving, pile the potatoes into a bowl and season with salt, tossing to disperse the seasoning.
  • Little by little they disperse, walking down a long causeway to where their cars are parked.
  • She gives the soup a stir every now and then to disperse its flavor.
  • They might be bringing candidates in before faculty disperse for summer.
  • After the cleanup, the guests were expected to quickly disperse until next year.
  • Regardless, you will always have less money to disperse than you would like.
  • The police then used more tear gas and a water cannon to disperse them once again.
British Dictionary definitions for disperse


to scatter; distribute over a wide area
to dissipate or cause to dissipate
to leave or cause to leave a gathering, often in a random manner
to separate or be separated by dispersion
(transitive) to diffuse or spread (news, information, etc)
to separate (particles) throughout a solid, liquid, or gas, as in the formation of a suspension or colloid
of or consisting of the particles in a colloid or suspension: disperse phase
Derived Forms
dispersedly (dɪˈspɜːsɪdlɪ) adverb
disperser, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin dispērsus scattered, from dispergere to scatter widely, from di-² + spargere to strew
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
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Word Origin and History for disperse

late 14c., from Latin dispersus, past participle of dispergere "to scatter," from dis- "apart, in every direction" (see dis-) + spargere "to scatter" (see sparse). The Latin word is glossed in Old English by tostregdan. Related: Dispersed; dispersing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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disperse in Medicine

disperse dis·perse (dĭ-spûrs')
v. dis·persed, dis·pers·ing, dis·pers·es

  1. To cause to separate and move in different directions; scatter.

  2. To cause to vanish or disappear.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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