I know there probably isn’t one word that covers that entire experience (although if there is, I’m definitely interested). I mainly want to know what the word is for when water is forced around. For example, when you hit water with your hand and it splashes water out. What is that splashing called? The best I can come up with is scattering, but I don’t like it.

Example sentence: The water smashed against the rock and scattered around it.

Is there a better word than scatter?

I know I'm going to be asked if I did any research. I tried, but because I can't figure out the word I'm looking for--although it's on the tip of my tongue--I can't figure out what to search for.

  • When I hit the water with my hand for the purpose of directing the displaced water onto someone they, they just say "Quit splashing." You can also get hit by "spray" coming off the rocks after a wave hits it or near the bottom of a waterfall. – Jim Apr 12 '18 at 19:14
  • Water flows over or around or under a rock. That said, water does not scatter. – Lambie Apr 12 '18 at 19:21

At least in your example, water, as a wave, diffracts. I believe diffract would answer your question.

  • 2
    Or, possibly ripples. – user22542 Apr 12 '18 at 19:09
  • Welcome to English Language & Usage! Could you explain why you believe the word is suitable? Perhaps you could cite a definition or usage example that suggests it fits the question's needs. – Bread Apr 12 '18 at 21:06
  • 1
    Hello. I was thinking that the asker was looking for a specific word that focused on the "going around" aspect in relation to the obstacle. This is the action of a wave in physical terms. I probably was thinking too hard. – user22542 Apr 12 '18 at 21:23
  • Oh no, I didn't mean to suggest that your answer is wrong at all. It's a great suggestion, imho. However it's beneficial to persuade voters to agree with you somehow (to earn + votes). And the best way is by providing some authoritative corroboration, using references and/or citing examples of usage. I'm voting it up, now that I have the opportunity to do so. I certainly would not have down-voted it: someone else did that. But I should have included this link in my first comment, because my intent is only to help and make you feel welcome: english.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer – Bread Apr 12 '18 at 22:02
  • Well, thank you, Bread. I am still trying to understand the Stack exchanges and how they work. I asked an astronomy question a week or so ago, and got such an immediate and excellent response that I was impressed. So, I have been exploring how it works and trying to contribute a little. It may take me a while to understand the ins and outs, so be patient. I appreciate the information. – user22542 Apr 12 '18 at 22:33

Whether the water supplies the momentum (as when flowing against an obstacle) or something falling into the water does, water breaks and splashes.

There's an entire branch of fluid dynamics that studies fluid thread breakup:

Fluid thread breakup is the process by which a single mass of fluid breaks into several smaller fluid masses.

When you hit the water with your hand, it breaks the surface tension. Since water is an incompressible fluid, your hand displaces the water into several smaller fluid masses.

How and when those smaller fluid masses break up into droplets (all of which is part of the splash) is governed by the Plateau-Rayleigh Instability.


Possibly surge around something, or slosh around something (both more forceful than the rippling and splashing in the other answers) the water can slosh around **in * something (like in a bucket that is being carried by someone running) or it can slosh around something, (like a wave sloshing around a stone at the beach) - as with the 'surge around something', no splashing (no droplets) are involved.

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