1. distributed or occurring here and there at irregular intervals; scattered.
  2. straggling, as an assemblage of parts.
  3. (of votes) cast in small numbers for various candidates.
  4. distributing, dispersing, or separating.


  1. a small, scattered number or quantity.
  2. Physics. the process in which a wave or beam of particles is diffused or deflected by collisions with particles of the medium that it traverses.

verb (used with object)

  1. to throw loosely about; distribute at irregular intervals: to scatter seeds.
  2. to separate and drive off in various directions; disperse: to scatter a crowd.
  3. Physics.
    1. to refract or diffract (light or other electromagnetic radiation) irregularly so as to diffuse in many directions.
    2. (of a medium) to diffuse or deflect (light or other wave phenomena) by collisions between the wave and particles of the medium.

verb (used without object)

  1. to separate and disperse; go in different directions.


  1. the act of scattering.
  2. something that is scattered.


  1. a small amount
  2. physics the process in which particles, atoms, etc, are deflected as a result of collision


  1. (tr) to throw about in various directions; strew
  2. to separate and move or cause to separate and move in various directions; disperse
  3. to deviate or cause to deviate in many directions, as in the diffuse reflection or refraction of light


  1. the act of scattering
  2. a substance or a number of objects scattered about

n.mid-14c., “that which has been strewn about;” late 14c., “act of dispersing,” verbal noun from scatter (v.). v.mid-12c. (transitive), possibly a northern English variant of Middle English schateren (see shatter), reflecting Norse influence. Intransitive sense from early 15c. Related: Scattered; scattering. As a noun from 1640s. v.

  1. To cause to separate and go in different directions.
  2. To separate and go in different directions; disperse.
  3. To deflect radiation or particles.


  1. The act of scattering or the condition of being scattered.

  1. The spreading of a stream of particles or a beam of rays, as of light, over a range of directions as a result of collisions with other particles. The sky appears blue due to the tendency of air molecules to scatter blue and violet light more than light of other frequencies. The scattering probabilities and patterns of subatomic particles, accelerated by particle accelerators and aimed at a target, is a major component of experimental particle physics. See also diffusion cross section.
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