from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Tending to become dispersed.
  • adjective Tending to produce dispersion.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Pertaining to dispersion; dispersing; separating and scattering.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Tending to disperse.
  • adjective (Opt.) the relative effect of a material in separating the different rays of light by refraction, as when the substance is formed into a prism.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective That becomes dispersed
  • adjective That causes dispersion

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

  • adjective spreading by diffusion


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Now let a prism be placed in the path of such rays of different wave length from a single molecule, and what is called the dispersive action of the prism will separate the rays in the order of their wave lengths, the longer waves being less refracted than the shorter ones; but the energy of any one of these will depend upon the _amplitude of undulation_, which in turn will depend upon the amplitude of vibration of the part of the molecule that originated it, but in general the longer waves have greater amplitude, though not necessarily so.

    Scientific American, Volume XLIII., No. 25, December 18, 1880 A Weekly Journal of Practical Information, Art, Science, Mechanics, Chemistry, and Manufactures.

  • Buddhism, however, on the 'dispersive' view of the evolution of religion, is not the only radiation from the common centre, of which we have to take account, in addition to fetishism, polytheism, and monotheism.

    Recent Developments in European Thought

  • The common centre and starting-point of fetishism, polytheism, and monotheism on this view (the 'dispersive' view) of the evolution of religion lies in the heart of man, in a consciousness, originally vague in the extreme, of the personality and superiority to man of the being or object worshipped.

    Recent Developments in European Thought

  • If this instance be taken as typical of the process of evolution in general, then the course of evolution is not, so to speak, linear or rectilinear, but -- to use M. Bergson's word -- 'dispersive'.

    Recent Developments in European Thought

  • The true view will be that the course of evolution is not linear, is not a line produced for ever in the same direction, not a succession of stages, but is 'dispersive', that from a common starting point many lines of evolution radiate in different directions.

    Recent Developments in European Thought

  • It seems equally capable of being fitted in to the 'dispersive' theory, and of being regarded as an emanation or radiation proceeding direct from the human heart.

    Recent Developments in European Thought

  • Thus, on the 'dispersive' view of the evolution of religion, Buddhism is

    Recent Developments in European Thought

  • Unlike glass, diamond is highly "dispersive," so white light is spread out into a broader spectrum, hence the beautiful colors, or "fire." - Current Articles

  • His black hair denies the soft light a hold on its dispersive form.


  • Because the glass of the prism is dispersive, different frequencies of the incoming white light are bent at different angles on entering and leaving the prism, resulting in a separation of the colors of the light.

    Optics basics: Defining the velocity of a wave « Skulls in the Stars


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