Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To drive off or scatter in different directions: The police dispersed the crowd.
  • transitive v. To strew or distribute widely: The airplane dispersed the leaflets over the city.
  • transitive v. To cause to vanish or disappear. See Synonyms at scatter.
  • transitive v. To disseminate (knowledge, for example).
  • transitive v. To separate (light) into spectral rays.
  • transitive v. To distribute (particles) evenly throughout a medium.
  • intransitive v. To separate and move in different directions; scatter: The crowd dispersed once the concert ended.
  • intransitive v. To break up and vanish; dissipate: The storm clouds had dispersed by noon.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To scatter in different directions
  • v. To break up and disappear; to dissipate
  • v. To disseminate
  • v. To separate rays of light etc. according to wavelength; to refract
  • v. To distribute throughout

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To scatter abroad; to drive to different parts; to distribute; to diffuse; to spread.
  • transitive v. To scatter, so as to cause to vanish; to dissipate.
  • intransitive v. To separate; to go or move into different parts; to vanish
  • intransitive v. To distribute wealth; to share one's abundance with others.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To scatter; separate and send off or drive in different directions; cause to separate in. different directions: as, to disperse a crowd.
  • To distribute; dispense.
  • To diffuse; spread.
  • To make known; publish.
  • To dissipate; cause to vanish: as, the fog is dispersed.
  • Synonyms and
  • Dispel, Scatter, etc. See dissipate.
  • To distribute, deal ont, disseminate, sow broadcast.
  • To separate and move apart in different directions without order or regularity; become scattered: as, the company dispersed at 10 o'clock.
  • To become diffused or spread; spread.
  • To vanish by diffusion; be scattered out of sight.
  • Scattered; dispersed.
  • n. One who or that which disperses: as, a disperser of libels.
  • In optics, to refract by amounts which vary with the wave-length of the refracted ray; separate a composite beam of light, into its components, forming a spectrum. See dispersion, 3.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. separate (light) into spectral rays
  • v. cause to separate
  • v. cause to become widely known
  • v. distribute loosely
  • v. to cause to separate and go in different directions
  • v. move away from each other

Etymologies

Middle English dispersen, from Old French disperser, from Latin dispergere, dispers-, to disperse : dis-, apart; see dis- + spargere, to scatter.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French disperser, from Latin dispersus, past participle of dispergere ("to scatter abroad, disperse"), from dis- ("apart") + spargere ("to scatter"); see sparse. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • They include Brenna Bell, an Oregon-based attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, who claims she was arrested while trying to obey police orders to disperse from a peaceful demonstration.

    November 2003

  • With the last investigation, however, we have gone beyond the field of actual colloid chemistry, although the solution of a radioactive substance, e.g. polonium chloride, can naturally be called a disperse system, though more accurately it is molecular-disperse because the substance dissolved in the solvent occurs here as molecules, not as molecular aggregates, as is the case in a colloidal solution.

    Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1926 - Presentation Speech

  • London cops have been given the power to "disperse" anyone under 16, gathered in groups of two or more, from almost all of central London, after 9PM.

    Boing Boing

  • As the science journal Nature reported, "they help large globs of oil 'disperse' into smaller pieces -- hence their name -- which are easier for sea-living microbes to break down."

    Elaine Shannon: Why Are Dispersant Chemicals Secret?

  • A large number of people started to kind of disperse, but there are many people here -- thousands of people, still standing around playing music, chanting, making their voices heard.

    CNN Transcript May 1, 2006

  • The note of war has been sounded, and in the imperial proclamation, recently issued, the people of the Confederate States and all who sympathize with them are treated as rebels, and twenty days is allowed them to "disperse" and return to their allegiance to the authorities at Washington.

    Senate journal of the second extra session of the thirty-third General Assembly of the state of Tennessee : which convened at Nashville on Thursday, the 25th day of April, A. D. 1861,

  • BP dumps over a million gallons of toxic old stocks of Corexit 9527A & 9500 into the Gulf to "disperse" the oil.

    WN.com - Business News

  • But that's only the tip of the iceberg: You need to take a look at the underwater impact of the oil geyser and the dangerous chemicals BP is using to "disperse" it - effects that could last for decades, even if the risky "Top Kill" maneuver to plug the well works.

    WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

  • Though BP should have to pay for the loses they have created,,, there is no authority for Obama to tell them to put money in this fund for someone of their choosing to 'disperse'.

    Propeller Most Popular Stories

  • Allowing, hoping and maybe even praying it would "disperse" deep under the surface, either way hidden from the prying eyes of media and humanity; thus, achieving the corporate directive and saving the company billions in penalties based on flow rates and environmental damage.

    Aspen Times - Top Stories

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