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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

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)

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