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From Anglo-Norman distourber, from Old French destorber, from Latin disturbare, intensifying for turbare (to throw into disorder).



disturb (third-person singular simple present disturbs, present participle disturbing, simple past and past participle disturbed)

  1. (transitive) to confuse a quiet, constant state or a calm, continuous flow, in particular: thoughts, actions or liquids.
    The noisy ventilation disturbed me during the exam.
    The performance was disturbed twice by a ringing mobile phone.
    A school of fish disturbed the water.
  2. (transitive) to divert, redirect, or alter by disturbing.
    A mudslide disturbed the course of the river.
    The trauma disturbed his mind.
    • Milton
      disturb his inmost counsels from their destined aim
  3. (intransitive) to have a negative emotional impact; to cause emotional distress or confusion.
    A disturbing film that tries to explore the mind of a serial killer.
    His behaviour is very disturbing.

Derived terms[edit]




  1. (obsolete) disturbance
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Milton to this entry?)