Definition of disperse in English:



  • 1 Distribute 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’
    • ‘The heat from the fire causes the pine cones to explode, dispersing seed over a wide area.’
    • ‘Is there any indication in the tapes that they have learned how to disperse it over a wide area, say in a public theater, or a train station?’
    • ‘Management of these conditions is currently dispersed among a plethora of programs and providers.’
    • ‘The senatorial aristocracy with its widely dispersed estates had virtually disappeared, and the ownership of landed property tended to become more regional.’
    • ‘Funds raised by the event will be dispersed among more than 30 Limerick charities and organisations over the coming months.’
    • ‘When confronted with those distributions, many of us probably reason that some species indeed are dispersed over a wide area on the wintering grounds.’
    • ‘They are found dispersed among some rocky bottom areas, but are largely found along the California coastal reefs and kelp forests.’
    • ‘Space forces and systems should in general be dispersed to cover the widest possible area yet retain the ability to concentrate decisive force rapidly.’
    • ‘The multiple paths of communications result in the system being very robust against jamming and also allow the units to be dispersed over a wide area.’
    • ‘Suburban office and industrial parks and shopping centers competed successfully with central business districts, dispersing economic activity over wide areas.’
    • ‘Our Founders emphasized that immigrants would have to be dispersed among what they described as the English population in this country.’
    • ‘But on reaching Ireland, the livestock was dispersed among farms, with most going to two slaughterhouses in Navan and Roscommon.’
    • ‘A few alert colleagues were dispersed among the executive departments.’
    • ‘Bordone's talent was dispersed among saturnine portraits, mannered religious scenes and images of dark and brooding eroticism.’
    • ‘At the strategic Bagram airbase, 20 miles north of Kabul, hundreds of soldiers trucked in late over the last few days were dispersed among the derelict airport buildings.’
    • ‘Evidence is dispersed among individual tourists and collectors, as personal mementoes.’
    • ‘Spores are dispersed passively by wind and rain.’
    • ‘Furthermore, as a company's scope increases, it may have to distribute its goods and services in progressively more dispersed areas.’
    • ‘Because the disease cannot be passed from person to person, infecting large populations would require dispersing spores over a wide area.’
    • ‘The settlements are generally dispersed with thin occupation layers.’
    scatter, disseminate, distribute, spread, broadcast, diffuse, strew, sow, sprinkle, pepper
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    1. 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’
      • ‘Clearly there would be a lot of ‘noise’ as different groups dispersed in different directions.’
      • ‘The crowd was dispersed when local authorities had men fire warning shots over their heads.’
      • ‘Once they were through clapping, the crowd dispersed into different directions.’
      • ‘At about the same time, police riding horses through the crowd stopped being effective at keeping the crowd moving and dispersing the jumping chanters.’
      • ‘Police also forcibly dispersed a slogan-shouting crowd of protesters in the adjoining city of Bhaktapur, injuring two people.’
      • ‘The weather took a turn for the worse as a fierce force 11 storm forced the convoy to disperse over a wide area.’
      • ‘Police quickly dispersed the crowd and dispatched the ringleaders to prison.’
      • ‘A handful of local people get off the bus, dispersing in 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.’
      • ‘However, there are growing signs that, even if crowds are dispersed away from Edinburgh, the protest could become inflammatory.’
      • ‘In a repeat of Sunday's clashes, police in full riot gear charged the protesters and used water cannons to disperse the angry crowds.’
      • ‘After 10 minutes or so, the crowd was dispersed.’
      • ‘Exasperated and frustrated, they dispersed in different directions, never to come together again.’
      • ‘A group of about 150 protesters remained after the initial burst of rubber bullets dispersed the crowd and police continued to fire on them, a photographer at the scene said.’
      • ‘Police dispersed the crowds with water cannons.’
      • ‘Students barricaded gates with burning tyres in an effort to prevent police from gaining access and dispersing the crowds.’
      • ‘From a vantage point, the charging bull creating space by dispersing the crowd ahead of it, and the chasers closing the gap behind it, is a spectacle.’
      • ‘The voices of the towns people broke out into a hive of excited chatter as they began to disperse in different directions.’
      • ‘Workers then dispersed peacefully in different directions, confusion and exhaustion written in their faces.’
      • ‘If such mass protests seem to be in the works, will the mainland Chinese government have to step in to clamp down, including dispersing the crowds with riot police?’
      break up, split up, disband, separate, scatter, leave, go their separate ways, go in different directions
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    2. 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’
      • ‘We had such hot weather and there wasn't a lot of wind to disperse it.’
      • ‘On the 23rd, cold and dry weather blew in from the East, and this caused the clouds to disperse, lifting the veil that the Germans had been fighting under.’
      • ‘The dark clouds had dispersed a bit but there were still clouds there.’
      • ‘The sun had gone, I was too late in the day, and the mist had risen and dispersed, coating the sky an even grey.’
      • ‘A blustery wind may help in dispersing the pollen, but it will also carry it further.’
      • ‘Apprehensive, thinking that he had truly been through enough already, Bill turned his head and saw that the wind was dispersing the remaining ashes of the thing that had been Bartholomew.’
      • ‘About 30 firefighters from across the county battled for more than four hours to spray water onto the gas cloud in a bid to disperse it.’
      • ‘Aerobic activities like cross-country skiing demand thin layers that rapidly disperse sweat and body heat - keeping you cool, not warm.’
      • ‘It blew over him like a strong gust of wind, dispersing all illusions and bringing to light the unpleasant agony of truth.’
      • ‘The clouds as if by divine interposition were entirely dispersed and I was once again invited to the grateful task of repeating my observations.’
      • ‘The mists of my confusion were being dispersed by reading God's Word.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Darren looked up at the ceiling fan dispersing his cigarette smoke as it hit.’
      • ‘He reasoned that any effect due to nearby cities would be more pronounced in calm conditions, when the wind could not disperse the heat.’
      • ‘End result: clear skies letting in the sun and no strong winds to disperse the heat.’
      • ‘There was no wind to disperse the odor that hung over Kumar like a malignant bouquet: raw kerosene, raw vegetables, raw sewage.’
      dissipate, be dispelled, thin out, dissolve, melt away, fade away, vanish, disappear, clear, lift, rise
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    3. 1.3Physics Divide (light) into constituents of different wavelengths.
      ‘the ability of a material to disperse light by refraction’
      • ‘The ceilings are configured to disperse reflected light evenly throughout the rooms.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Within the foyer, a double-height, semi-circular void disperses soft light into the depths of the building.’
      • ‘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] Denoting a phase dispersed in another phase, as in a colloid.

    ‘emulsions should be examined after storage for droplet size of the disperse 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.’
    • ‘These variables allow to control the diameter of the disperse phase droplets (emulsion or microemulsion).’
    • ‘The particles are referred to as the disperse phase while the other phase is termed the dispersion medium or continuous phase.’
    • ‘The colloidal particles of the disperse phase are equivalent to the solute of a solution and the continuous phase is equivalent to the solvent.’


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