Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

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Main Entry: 1scat·ter
Pronunciation: 'ska-t&r
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English scateren, schateren to disperse, break up, destroy; akin to Middle Dutch schaderen to scatter
Date: 14th century
transitive verb
1 a : to cause to separate widely b : to cause to vanish
2 archaic : to fling away heedlessly : SQUANDER
3 : to distribute irregularly
4 : to sow by casting in all directions : STREW
5 a : to reflect irregularly and diffusely b : to cause (a beam of radiation) to diffuse or disperse
6 : to divide into ineffectual small portions
intransitive verb
1 : to separate and go in various directions : DISPERSE
2 : to occur or fall irregularly or at random
- scat·ter·er /-t&r-&r/ noun
synonyms SCATTER, DISPERSE, DISSIPATE, DISPEL mean to cause to separate or break up. SCATTER implies a force that drives parts or units irregularly in many directions <the bowling ball scattered the pins>. DISPERSE implies a wider separation and a complete breaking up of a mass or group <police dispersed the crowd>. DISSIPATE stresses complete disintegration or dissolution and final disappearance <the fog was dissipated by the morning sun>. DISPEL stresses a driving away or getting rid of as if by scattering <an authoritative statement that dispelled all doubt>.