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[in-ter-spurs] /ˌɪn tərˈspɜrs/
verb (used with object), interspersed, interspersing.
to scatter here and there or place at intervals among other things:
to intersperse flowers among shrubs.
to diversify with something placed or scattered at intervals:
to intersperse a dull speech with interesting anecdotes.
Origin of intersperse
1560-70; < Latin interspersus (past participle of interspergere to strew here and there), equivalent to inter- inter- + -spersus, combining form of sparsus, past participle of spargere to scatter; see disperse
Related forms
[in-ter-spur-sid-lee] /ˌɪn tərˈspɜr sɪd li/ (Show IPA),
[in-ter-spur-zhuh n or, esp. British, -shuh n] /ˌɪn tərˈspɜr ʒən or, esp. British, -ʃən/ (Show IPA),
interspersal, noun
uninterspersed, adjective
1. strew, sprinkle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for interspersed
  • These are interspersed with modern shopping and residential neighborhoods.
  • He interspersed his commercial work with political writing.
  • Then they tested them with silent periods, interspersed with some tones.
  • Flowering types are especially effective when interspersed among those that seldom, if ever, bloom.
  • interspersed between moments of destruction are a series of short messages and subtly linked images.
  • These are interspersed with glowing news reports about the owner's family.
  • Wildlife officials seized the bear after noticing its white fur was interspersed with brown patches.
  • These compounds are interspersed cheek-by-jowl with ramshackle townships, where improvised stalls abut open gutters.
  • The bear's white fur was interspersed with brown patches.
  • interspersed with interviews are never-seen archival film clips.
British Dictionary definitions for interspersed


verb (transitive)
to scatter or distribute among, between, or on
to diversify (something) with other things scattered here and there
Derived Forms
interspersedly (ˌɪntəˈspɜːsɪdlɪ) adverb
interspersion (ˌɪntəˈspɜːʃən), interspersal, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin interspargere, from inter- + spargere to sprinkle
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 interspersed



1560s, from Latin interspersus "strewn, scattered, sprinkled upon," past participle of *interspergere, from inter- "between" (see inter-) + spargere "to scatter" (see sparse). Related: Interspersed; interspersing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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