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[dih-sturb] /dɪˈstɜrb/
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 forms
disturber, noun
predisturb, verb (used with object)
1. bother, annoy, trouble, pester. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for disturb
  • What the book biz wants is words that won't disturb, outrage or frighten.
  • None of the other five crewmen were stirring, so as not to disturb the experiment with any vibrations.
  • Officer responded and asked him to speak at a lower volume and not disturb people.
  • Critics say this might disturb the toxic sediment lying on the lake bottom, while ice scouring might rupture the pipe.
  • If you try to measure it directly, you necessarily disturb it.
  • My fear is that it would disturb the bottom to such an extent that marine life would be affected.
  • The descent engines were designed to disperse exhaust as widely as possible, to disturb the landing site as minimally as possible.
  • The way reference services are delivered there would intrigue some and disturb others.
  • The red is important because bright lights disturb the creatures in the deep sea where it's typically dark.
  • No phones, no awkward interruptions disturb their peace.
British Dictionary definitions for disturb


verb (transitive)
to intrude on; interrupt
to destroy or interrupt the quietness or peace of
to disarrange; muddle
(often passive) to upset or agitate; trouble: I am disturbed at your bad news
to inconvenience; put out: don't disturb yourself on my account
Derived Forms
disturber, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for disturb

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
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