A disturbance is a noisy commotion that causes a hubbub or interruption. It can also be a worried mental state.

In hotels, people put up "Do not disturb" signs when they want to be left alone. That's a good clue to what a disturbance is: something, usually noisy or rowdy, that bothers people. An audience member yelling during a piano concert would be a disturbance. Disturbances can also be interruptions, like a disturbance in cable service when the cable goes out. Disturbances can also be mental: if you're worried or anxious, that's a type of internal disturbance.

Definitions of disturbance

n activity that is a malfunction, intrusion, or interruption

“he looked around for the source of the disturbance
“there was a disturbance of neural function”
bother, fuss, hassle, trouble
an angry disturbance
magnetic storm
a sudden disturbance of the earth's magnetic field; caused by emission of particles from the sun
Type of:
any specific behavior

n the act of disturbing something or someone; setting something in motion

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carnival, circus
a frenetic disorganized (and often comic) disturbance suggestive of a large public entertainment
disorganisation, disorganization
the disturbance of a systematic arrangement causing disorder and confusion
disruption, perturbation
the act of causing disorder
commotion, din, ruckus, ruction, rumpus, tumult
the act of making a noisy disturbance
furor, furore
a sudden outburst (as of protest)
havoc, mayhem
violent and needless disturbance
battle royal, melee, scrimmage
a noisy riotous fight
agitation, excitement, hullabaloo, turmoil, upheaval
disturbance usually in protest
outburst, tumultuous disturbance
a sudden violent disturbance
rampage, violent disorder
violently angry and destructive behavior
derangement, overthrow, upset
the act of disturbing the mind or body
a confused disturbance far greater than its cause merits
breakdown, dislocation
the act of disrupting an established order so it fails to continue
surprisal, surprise
the act of surprising someone
an outrageous rampage usually involving sexual attacks by men on women
ado, bustle, flurry, fuss, hustle, stir
a rapid active commotion
Type of:
motility, motion, move, movement
a change of position that does not entail a change of location

n a disorderly outburst or tumult

“they were amazed by the furious disturbance they had caused”
commotion, disruption, flutter, hoo-ha, hoo-hah, hurly burly, kerfuffle, to-do
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convulsion, turmoil, upheaval
a violent disturbance
a disturbance that is extremely disruptive
a public disturbance
splash, stir
a prominent or sensational but short-lived news event
storm, tempest
a violent commotion or disturbance
storm center, storm centre
a center of trouble or disturbance
garboil, tumult, tumultuousness, uproar
a state of commotion and noise and confusion
a state of violent disturbance and excitement
Type of:
a disturbance of the peace or of public order

n a noisy fight

affray, fray, ruffle
Type of:
combat, fight, fighting, scrap
the act of fighting; any contest or struggle

n an unhappy and worried mental state

“there was too much anger and disturbance
perturbation, upset
Type of:
a mental state of extreme emotional disturbance

n electrical or acoustic activity that can disturb communication

interference, noise
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unwanted echoes that interfere with the observation of signals on a radar screen
background, background signal
extraneous signals that can be confused with the phenomenon to be observed or measured
XT, crosstalk
the presence of an unwanted signal via an accidental coupling
a gradual temporary loss of a transmitted signal due to electrical disturbances
small rapid variations in a waveform resulting from fluctuations in the voltage supply or mechanical vibrations or other sources
atmospheric static, atmospherics, static
a crackling or hissing noise caused by electrical interference
white noise
a noise produced by a stimulus containing all of the audible frequencies of vibration
background noise, ground noise
extraneous noise contaminating sound measurements that cannot be separated from the desired signal
background radiation
radiation coming from sources other than those being observed
radio noise
static at radio wavelengths
Type of:
an event causing distress or pain

n (psychiatry) a psychological disorder of thought or emotion; a more neutral term than mental illness

folie, mental disorder, mental disturbance, psychological disorder
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Asperger's syndrome
a psychiatric disorder usually noted during early school years; characterized by impaired social relations and by repetitive patterns of behavior
anxiety disorder
a cover term for a variety of mental disorders in which severe anxiety is a salient symptom
psychosomatic disorder
a mental disorder that causes somatic symptoms
a disorder in one's mental state
conversion disorder, conversion hysteria, conversion reaction
a mental disorder characterized by the conversion of mental conflict into somatic forms (into paralysis or anesthesia having no apparent cause)
a usually brief state of excitement and mental confusion often accompanied by hallucinations
delusional disorder
any mental disorder in which delusions play a significant role
involuntary defecation not attributable to physical defects or illness
folie a deux
the simultaneous occurrence of symptoms of a mental disorder (as delusions) in two persons who are closely related (as siblings or man and wife)
personality disorder
inflexible and maladaptive patterns of behavior
affective disorder, emotional disorder, emotional disturbance, major affective disorder
any mental disorder not caused by detectable organic abnormalities of the brain and in which a major disturbance of emotions is predominant
resembling schizophrenia but remaining within the bounds of normality
neurosis, neuroticism, psychoneurosis
a mental or personality disturbance not attributable to any known neurological or organic dysfunction
dissociative disorder
dissociation so severe that the usually integrated functions of consciousness and perception of self break down
GAD, anxiety reaction, generalized anxiety disorder
an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic free-floating anxiety and such symptoms as tension or sweating or trembling or lightheadedness or irritability etc that has lasted for more than six months
obsessive-compulsive disorder
an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and persistent thoughts and feelings and repetitive, ritualized behaviors
panic disorder
an anxiety disorder characterized by unpredictable panic attacks; the attacks are usually severe but brief
phobia, phobic disorder, phobic neurosis
an anxiety disorder characterized by extreme and irrational fear of simple things or social situations
PTSD, posttraumatic stress disorder
an anxiety disorder associated with serious traumatic events and characterized by such symptoms as survivor guilt, reliving the trauma in dreams, numbness and lack of involvement with reality, or recurrent thoughts and images
glove anesthesia
a mental disorder involving loss of sensitivity in the hand and wrist
the condition of being unable to adapt properly to your environment with resulting emotional instability
antisocial personality disorder, psychopathic personality, sociopathic personality
a personality disorder characterized by amorality and lack of affect; capable of violent acts without guilt feelings (`psychopathic personality' was once widely used but was superseded by `sociopathic personality' to indicate the social aspects of the disorder, but now `antisocial personality disorder' is the preferred term)
schizoid, schizotypal personality
characterized by symptoms similar to but less severe than schizophrenia
clinical depression, depression, depressive disorder
a state of depression and anhedonia so severe as to require clinical intervention
mania, manic disorder
a mood disorder; an affective disorder in which the victim tends to respond excessively and sometimes violently
bipolar disorder, manic depression, manic depressive illness, manic-depressive psychosis
a mental disorder characterized by episodes of mania and depression
hysteria, hysterical neurosis
neurotic disorder characterized by violent emotional outbreaks and disturbances of sensory and motor functions
anxiety neurosis
characterized by diffuse anxiety and often somatic manifestations of fear
depersonalisation, depersonalisation disorder, depersonalisation neurosis, depersonalization, depersonalization disorder, depersonalization neurosis
emotional dissociative disorder in which there is loss of contact with your own personal reality accompanied by feelings of unreality and strangeness
fugue, psychogenic fugue
dissociative disorder in which a person forgets who they are and leaves home to creates a new life; during the fugue there is no memory of the former life; after recovering there is no memory for events during the dissociative state
multiple personality, split personality
a relatively rare dissociative disorder in which the usual integrity of the personality breaks down and two or more independent personalities emerge
Type of:
disorder, upset
a physical condition in which there is a disturbance of normal functioning

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