1825 in reference to Moravian protestants; 1869 in reference to the dispersion of the Jews; from Greek diaspora "dispersion," from diaspeirein "to scatter about, disperse," from dia "about, across" (see dia-) + speirein "to scatter" (see sparse). The Greek word was used in the Septuagint in Deuteronomy xxviii.25. A Hebrew word for it is galuth "exile." The earlier word for it in English was Latinate dispersion (late 14c.). Related: Diasporic.
late 14c., dispersioun, "the Jewish diaspora," from Old French dispersion (13c.), from Latin dispersionem (nominative dispersio) "a scattering," noun of action from past-participle stem of dispergere "to scatter," from dis- "apart, in every direction" (see dis-) + spargere "to scatter" (see sparse). Meaning "act of scattering, state of being dispersed" is from early 15c.
c. 1300, from Old French transmigracion "exile, diaspora" (13c.) and directly from Late Latin transmigrationem (nominative transmigratio) "change of country," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin transmigrare "to wander, move, to migrate," from trans "across, beyond; over" (see trans-) + migrare "to migrate" (see migration). Originally literal, in reference to the removal of the Jews into the Babylonian captivity; general sense of "passage from one place to another" is attested from late 14c.; sense of "passage of the soul after death into another body" first recorded 1590s.