To disperse is to scatter, and to disburse is to pay. Don’t get them mixed up — you don’t want your money to disperse!

Disperse is a little like dissipate. When clouds disperse, they dissolve or float away and the sun comes out. Crowds disperse when everyone goes their separate ways. To disperse information is to broadcast it. A sneeze helps disperse germs, so you should always cover your mouth and nose when you feel one coming on! Here are some other examples:

People were ordered to disperse, and some streets were closed. (Fox News)

Scientists maintain it’s far less risky to be outside than indoors because virus droplets disperse in the fresh air, reducing the chances of COVID-19 transmission. (Seattle Times)

Hold on to your purse! To disburse is to distribute funds. You can find the Latin root bursa, for “purse,” in disburse and other words like bursar (“a treasurer of a college”) or reimburse (“to pay back”). Here’s disburse in the news:

Most companies disburse funds within two to three weeks, but you should get a payment deadline in your contract. (Washington Post)

Twelve nonprofit groups are working with the state government to disburse the aid. (Los Angeles Times)

To remember the difference, look at the letters: Disperse a party but disburse from a bank.