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diaspora, n.

Inflections:   Plural diasporas, (rare) unchanged.
Forms:  Also with capital initial.(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use): 
Etymology:  Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from Latin. Partly a borrowing from Greek. Etymons: Latin diaspora; Greek διασπορά.
< (i) post-classical Latin diaspora (1643 or earlier),
or its etymon (ii) Hellenistic Greek διασπορά act of dispersion, group of people who have been dispersed < ancient Greek δια-  dia- prefix1   + σπορά   sowing, seed (see spore n.), after ancient Greek διασπείρειν   to disperse.
Compare earlier dispersion n.
There are 12 instances of Greek διασπορά   in the Septuagint, including Deuteronomy 28:25: ἔση ἐν διασπορᾷ ἐν πάσαις βασιλείαις τῆς γῆς   ‘you shall be in dispersion in all kingdoms of the earth’.
In sense 2   in the specific use with reference to various Protestant communities in German-speaking countries (compare quot. 1844) after German Diaspora (1758 or earlier in this sense, originally with reference to the Moravian Brethren; early 19th cent. or earlier in sense 1).

 1. The body of Jews living outside the land of Israel; the countries and places inhabited by these, regarded collectively; the dispersion of the Jewish people beyond the land of Israel. Also with reference to the early Christians: Christians of Jewish origin living outside the land of Israel, as recipients of the Gospels (see James 1:1, 1 Peter 1:1) (hist.). Freq. with capital initial. Usu. with the.The main dispersion of Jews began with the destruction of the First Temple in 586 b.c.e., and the subsequent exile of Jews to Babylonia. Even before the sack of Jerusalem in 70 c.e. the number of Jews living in the diaspora was greater than that in the land of Israel; thereafter, Jews were dispersed even more widely throughout the Roman world and beyond.

1694   J. Owen Plea Script. Ordination ii. 13   The Presbyters of the Jewish Diaspora, to whom St. Peter wrote, are requir'd..to feed or rule the Flock, and to perform the office and work of Bishops among them.
1709   C. Place Adversaria 93   St. Peter's, together with Judea, taking in the whole Jewish Diaspora.
1728   E. Chandler Vindic. Def. Christianity II. i. 372   St. James would not otherwise have directed his epistle, to the twelve Tribes scattered abroad, had he not known that there were many yet remaining of that diaspora or dispersion, where they continued a distinct body, or if mingled with the Jews in Asia-minor, were not swallowed up by them.
1824   J. Kenrick tr. G. F. A. Strauss Helon's Pilgrimage to Jerusalem (1825) II. iii. i. 2   No pilgrim from Hebron or Libna, no stranger of the Diaspora was to be seen.
1861   Jewish Chron. 15 Nov. 6/2   From the days of the diaspora down to the present.
1889   Edinb. Rev. No. 345. 66   The mental horizon of the Jews of the Diaspora was being enlarged.
1897   J. B. Mayor Epist. St. James (ed. 2) p. clxiv,   It may have been..that the facts of our Lord's life were less familiar to these early Jewish converts of the Diaspora than the Old Testament narratives.
1938   Times 20 Oct. 10/2   In almost every generation there were waves of Jewish re-immigration to Palestine from the wide-flung Diaspora.
1941   A. C. Bouquet Compar. Relig. iv. 166   Real use is made of the Jewish diaspora (or dispersion) and its proselytes to create a new universal or common world religion.
1973   Guardian 12 Mar. 10/3   Young Israelis..feel no mission to the Jews of the Diaspora. The ingathering of the exiles is a remote slogan.
2009   N.Y. Rev. Bks. 24 Sept. 61/4   Immigration to Eretz Israel..was thought by the early settlers to be..a process of national rebirth, creating a new Jewish society very different from the communities of Jews in the Diaspora.

1694—2009(Hide quotations)


 2. In extended use. Any group of people who have spread or become dispersed beyond their traditional homeland or point of origin; the dispersion or spread of a group of people in this way; an instance of this. Also: the countries and places inhabited by such a group, regarded collectively.In early use chiefly in Christian contexts, esp. with reference to the Moravian Church, an evangelical Protestant Church founded in Saxony in the early 18th cent. by emigrants from Moravia, a region of central Europe (see Moravian n.1 2). Since the early 20th cent. diaspora has been commonly applied (often with distinguishing word) to dispersions of nationalities, ethnic groups, etc.

1749   tr. in Acct. Doctr. Unitas Fratrum v. 108   Johannes à Lasco (a Polish Baron and Prelate, who..had gone to foreign Countries, where he at different Times was Pastor of the Diaspora [L. dispersis] at London, Emden, Frankfort on the Mayn; but in the Year 1556. being sent for, returned into his own Country).
1794   E. Stiles Hist. Three Judges King Charles I v. 308,   I fear not to risque the offence and vociferous repudiations of the disciples of the open Voltaire and Rosseau... The blaze of this little political diaspora of extravagant and self-opinionated philosophers..will..go out and evanish.
1844   Periodical Accts. Missions Church United Brethren 17 143   Our Brethren labouring in the Diaspora are also, in many instances, the medium through which our Church maintains her fellowship with other Protestant churches.
1872   Contemp. Rev. Jan. 238   The Austro-Germans, especially those of the ‘Diaspora’ or non-German countries, look upon the resistance offered by the Czechs in general..as high treason against light and civilization.
1924   Public Opinion 6 Sept. 221/1   There have been many diasporas or dispersions in the world's history.
1959   Chambers's Encycl. XIV. 355/2   Throughout the middle ages and down to modern times they [sc. the Vlachs] appear as a diaspora in the states founded by other nations.
1962   Listener 19 Apr. 697/3   Négritude is claimed..equally in Africa and among the Negro diaspora.
1977   A. Sheridan tr. J. Lacan Écrits ix. 307   The ageing of the psychoanalytic group in the diaspora of the war.
2005   Time Out N.Y. 4 Aug. 120/1   The bands that attend LAMC [= Latin Alternative Music Conference] are from all over the Spanish diaspora.

1749—2005(Hide quotations)


 3. The state or fact of having been dispersed from one's homeland or point of origin. Freq. in in diaspora.

1848   tr. in J. H. Merle d'Aubigné Germany, Eng., & Scotl. 362   We must distinguish from these church members, (these brethren in Diaspora,) those who inhabit places where there is a Moravian church.
1876   J. M'Clintock & J. Strong Cycl. Biblical, Theol., & Eccl. Lit. (1880) VI. 589/1   Totals in home provinces of the Unitas Fratrum: ministers, 248; members, 27,906... Totals in Diaspora: laborers, 65; members of societies, 100,000.
1943   Jewish Q. Rev. 34 12   The Jews of Diaspora were guided and controlled in their religious life by the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem.
1967   Listener 8 June 750/1   The Israelis..once more believed that they have escaped from diaspora by being united into an all-Jewish state.
1988   H. Wybrew in S. Sutherland et al. World's Relig. ii. x. 189   The Catholicosate of Sis has jurisdiction over Armenians in diaspora.
2006   Cineaste Summer 42/1   The films of Iranian filmmakers living in exile and diaspora in Europe and North America are part of an emerging global cinema of displacement.

1848—2006(Hide quotations)




  General attrib., as diaspora culture, diaspora Jew, diaspora work, etc.

1851   Moravian Church Misc. July 209   The Diaspora-laborer br. J. G. Krause in Zurich, has been appointed to the same home mission (Diaspora) service at Stettin, Prussia.
1876   C. M. Davies Unorthodox London (rev. ed.) 153   [The Moravian body's] extensive diaspora work (as it is termed) of evangelizing among the National Protestant Churches on the continent.
1894   S. F. Dunlap Ghebers of Hebron ix. 871   The Ecclesia is a Diaspora meeting, not a Jewish synagogue.
1901   S. Taylor & P. Christie tr. E. Schürer Hist. Jewish People II. ii. 253   Just as there were diaspora communities composed of Jews, so in like manner there were those composed of Phoenicians, Egyptians, and so on.
1967   Vigiliae Christianae 21 70   The hellenistic diaspora-Jews had a more favourable attitude towards the plastic arts than the rabbinistic Jews.
1969   A. Cohen Custom & Politics in Urban Afr. v. 159   The intensification of social interaction within the Quarter has brought about a homogenization of Hausa diaspora culture.
1973   Jewish Chron. 19 Jan. 2/1   A stormy debate as a resolution about diaspora leaders..marked the closing session here.
2002   P. V. Bohlman World Music vi. 128   The transformation of [Asian] immigrant and ethnic culture in the USA to diaspora culture.

1851—2002(Hide quotations)