dis·​able | \ dis-ˈā-bəl How to pronounce disable (audio) , diz-ˈā- \
disabled; disabling\ dis-​ˈā-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce disabling (audio) , diz-​ˈā-​ \

Definition of disable

transitive verb

1a : to make ineffective or inoperative disable a bomb For victims of smartphone theft, the ultimate justice is hitting a button that disables the device, turning it into a worthless rectangular paperweight.— Heather Kelley … gene editing makes it possible to change or disable a single gene without changing the "meaning" of the rest of the genome.— Kat McGowan
b : to impair physically or mentally : to cause disability in Automobile accidents kill nearly 50,000 people each year. … Accidents maim or disable another 80,000.— Matt Clark and Mary Hager Diet-related Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease disable and kill people …— Mark Bittman
2 : to deprive of legal right, qualification, or capacity … the injured party was released from the bonds of marriage; but the offender, during life, or a term of years, was disabled from the repetition of nuptials.— Edward Gibbon

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Other Words from disable

disablement \ dis-​ˈā-​bəl-​mənt How to pronounce disablement (audio) , diz-​ˈā-​ \ noun
physical disablement Nor does it tackle the disablement of any North Korean program to enrich uranium. — Thomas Omestad
disabling adjective
Bipolar disorder is one of the world's 10 most disabling conditions, taking away years of healthy functioning from individuals who have the illness. — David J. Kupfer This is a rare, disabling pain disorder in which ordinary sensation such as touch, warmth and coolness are perceived as painful and minor knocks are agonizing. — Maia Szalavitz

Choose the Right Synonym for disable

weaken, enfeeble, debilitate, undermine, sap, cripple, disable mean to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor. weaken may imply loss of physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power. a disease that weakens the body's defenses enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness. enfeebled by starvation debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality. the debilitating effects of surgery undermine and sap suggest a weakening by something working surreptitiously and insidiously. a poor diet undermines your health drugs had sapped his ability to think cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element. crippled by arthritis disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability. disabled by an injury sustained at work

Examples of disable in a Sentence

a promising athlete who was severely disabled in a plane crash disabled the controls for unauthorized users
Recent Examples on the Web Antibodies are highly specific proteins raised by the immune system to disable viral invaders. Tim Loh, Bloomberg.com, "Siemens Healthineers, CDC to Develop Covid Antibody Standard," 15 Sep. 2020 Authorities used spike strips to disable the van and two suspects, later identified as 21-year-old Anthony Travis Bodda and 36-year-old Alexander Justin Jones, got out and fled on foot. oregonlive, "Oregon wildfires: Two men arrested for looting in Marion County," 11 Sep. 2020 Starlink was contacted and able to successfully disable the Forester. cleveland, "Residents still leaving keys in cars, more stolen: Bay Village Police Blotter," 11 Sep. 2020 An in-service train was used to check on the fire, endangering passengers onboard, while a lack of correct and clear instructions from the ROCC led the operator to disable the train, causing the cars to go dark and panicking riders. Justin George, Washington Post, "Metro’s rail control center a ‘toxic workplace’ where procedures put riders at risk, safety report says," 8 Sep. 2020 Council members attempted to find a way to disable the chat feature but were unsuccessful. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Hideout Town Council meets to restart expansion plans before it’s too late," 5 Sep. 2020 Any attempt to disable the Zimperium client would be detected by the Zimperium server, which would notify Voatz, Sahwney claimed. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Why experts are overwhelmingly skeptical of online voting," 3 Sep. 2020 Google and Apple have also pledged to disable the exposure notification system when it’s no longer needed. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Your phone could be telling you if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Here’s why it’s not," 4 Aug. 2020 In the Advanced Audio settings, this new mode will disable echo cancellation, post-processing and compression. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "6 ways your school's Zoom calls will get better this fall," 20 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of disable

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for disable

Middle English disablen "to deprive of legal rights" (in past participle disabled), borrowed from Anglo-French desabler, from des- dis- + able able, or from abler "to permit, make able to inherit," derivative of able able

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Time Traveler for disable

Time Traveler

The first known use of disable was in the 15th century

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Statistics for disable

Last Updated

20 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disable. Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for disable


dis·​able | \ dis-ˈā-bəl How to pronounce disable (audio) \
disabled; disabling

Kids Definition of disable

: to make unable or incapable He disabled the computer system.
dis·​able | \ dis-ˈā-bəl, diz- How to pronounce disable (audio) \
disabled; disabling\ -​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce disabling (audio) \

Medical Definition of disable

: to impair physically or mentally : to cause disability in Automobile accidents kill nearly 50,000 people each year. … Accidents maim or disable another 80,000.— Matt Clark and Mary Hager Diet-related Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease disable and kill people …— Mark Bittman
disabled; disabling

Legal Definition of disable

1 : to deprive of legal right, qualification, or capacity
2 : to make incapable or ineffective specifically : to cause to have a disability

Other Words from disable

disablement noun

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