One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Greater variance in a set of observations than would be expected on the assumption of independence and homogeneity (which underlies e.g. binomial and Poisson distribution); greater unevenness in the distribution of individuals, events, etc., than would be the case if each instance were independent of the rest; clustering, aggregation.
2Greater separateness or regularity of distribution than would be predicted to arise randomly.
1930s. From over- + dispersion. Compare under-dispersion.
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