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A Word A Day — intersperse

Good morning, Netizens...

December 12, 2012

Word of the Day

  • intersperse
  • audio pronunciation
  • \in-ter-SPERSS\


: to place something at intervals in or among
: to insert at intervals among other things

The author has interspersed the guidebook with illustrations of the different birds we might encounter on the safari tour.

"Students attend from 8:35 a.m. to 4:06 p.m., in 10-period days that intersperse traditional classes like math and English with technology and business-centric courses like 'workplace learning,' which teaches networking, critical thinking and presentation skills." — From an article by Al Baker in the New York Times, October 21, 2012


"Intersperse" derives from Latin "interspersus," formed by combining the familiar prefix "inter-" ("between or among") with "sparsus," the past participle of "spargere," meaning "to scatter." In "sparsus" one finds an ancestor to our adjective "sparse," as well as a relative of "spark." (The relationship of "spark" to a word that describes something being scattered about makes sense when you think of sparks bursting or scattering off a flame.) "Intersperse" is often followed by the preposition "with," as in "a straggling street of comfortable white and red houses, interspersed with abundant shady trees." (H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds)

From Merriam-Webster Online at



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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.