When something really worries or upsets you, you can describe it as disturbing. War photography is usually disturbing.

It can be disturbing to see people be hurt, or a child going hungry: it troubles the person who is witnessing such difficulties. Some strange things are also often described as disturbing, such as bizarre clown art or people who walk around dressed in animal costumes. If it bothers and distresses you, it's disturbing. The Latin root, disturbare, combines dis, "completely," with turbare, "to disorder."

Definitions of disturbing
  1. adjective
    causing distress or worry or anxiety
    “a disturbing amount of crime”
    synonyms: distressful, distressing, perturbing, troubling, worrisome, worrying
    marked by great psychological weight; weighted down especially with sadness or troubles or weariness
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week