Disperse vs Disburse

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What’s the difference between them?



To spread or scatter widely over an area or among a group.


1. The crowd began to disperse after the parade ended.

2. The birds dispersed when the hunter fired his gun.

3. The teacher asked the students to disperse into their groups.



To pay out or distribute money, generally from a fund.


1. The company disbursed the funds to employees' accounts last week.

2. The nonprofit organization disbursed donations to those in need.

3. The government disbursed the stimulus payments quickly.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference




1. Diffuse

2. Disseminate

3. Scatter

4. Divide

5. Spread out

1. Gather

2. Unite

3. Congregate

4. Concentrate

5. Centralize


1. Expend

2. Disseminate

3. Distribute

4. Dispose of

5. Shell out

1. Collect

2. Withhold

3. Hoard

4. Deny

5. Retain

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Disperse", "Disburse".

1. Disperse means to scatter or spread out.

2. Disburse means to pay out.

3. Imagine an old man disbursing money from a large sack to a crowd of people – he is paying out money.

4. Picture a flock of birds dispersing in all different directions – they are spreading out.

Check the full list of commonly confused words in English

Learn the difference

Frequently asked questions

In what situations should the first word be used?

Disperse should be used when talking about the distribution of something, such as ideas or people, over a wide areIt is also used to describe the action of breaking up into individual elements or parts.

When is the appropriate context for using the second word?X

Disburse is used when talking about the payment of funds, especially those that are being distributed from a larger pool of money.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

No, the two words do not share the same pronunciation. Disperse is pronounced dis-purs, while disburse is pronounced dis-burs.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

One common mistake people make when using these words is thinking that they have the same meaning. Although they are related, they are not interchangeable and should be used in the appropriate context.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. The company decided to ___ its budget more widely in order to reach more people.

2. The government had to ___ funds to cover the cost of the emergency.

3. All of the students were required to ___ throughout the classroom.

4. The charity was able to ___ a portion of its profits to those in need.

5. The crowd had to ___ when the police arrived.

6. The manager had to ___ the checks to all the employees.

1. Disperse

Explanation: To disperse the budget more widely means to spread it out among a larger number of people or locations.

2. Disburse

Explanation: To disburse funds means to pay out money from a source such as a budget, fund, or account.

3. Disperse

Explanation: To disperse means to cause something to move away from each other in different directions. In this case, the students were required to spread out throughout the classroom.

4. Disburse

Explanation: To disburse profits means to make payments from the profits of an organization.

5. Disperse

Explanation: To disperse means to cause a group of people to move away from each other in different directions.

6. Disburse

Explanation: To disburse checks means to make payments in the form of checks.

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List of Commonly Confused Words

Finding your way around the English language can be hard, especially since there are so many confusing words and rules. So, a list of the most confusing words in English is an extremely useful tool for improving language accuracy and sharing the ideas clearly.