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From Middle English scateren, skateren, (also schateren, see shatter), from Old English *sceaterian, probably from a dialect of Old Norse. Possibly related to Proto-Indo-European *skēi-t-. Compare Middle Dutch scheteren (to scatter), Low German schateren, Dutch schateren (to burst out laughing); and is apparently remotely akin to Ancient Greek σκεδάννυμι (skedánnumi, scatter, disperse).[1]



scatter (third-person singular simple present scatters, present participle scattering, simple past and past participle scattered)

  1. (ergative) To (cause to) separate and go in different directions; to disperse.
    the police scattered the crowds
    the crowd scattered
    • Shakespeare
      Scatter and disperse the giddy Goths.
  2. (transitive) To distribute loosely as by sprinkling.
    Her ashes were scattered at the top of a waterfall.
    • Dryden
      Why should my muse enlarge on Libyan swains, / Their scattered cottages, and ample plains?
  3. (transitive, physics) To deflect (radiation or particles).
  4. (intransitive) To occur or fall at widely spaced intervals.
  5. (transitive) To frustrate, disappoint, and overthrow.
    to scatter hopes or plans
  6. (transitive) To be dispersed upon.
    Desiccated stalks scattered the fields.
    • 2016, J. D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy, page 21:
      [] its beauty is obscured by the environmental waste and loose trash that scatter the countryside.

Derived terms[edit]


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Further reading[edit]


  • ^ Skeat