dis·able | \dis-ˈā-bəl, diz-ˈā-\
disabled; disabling\-b(ə-)liŋ \

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 \-bəl-mənt \ 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

Deleting, rejecting, disabling or turning off HTTP cookies as described above will not remove flash cookies. Car and Driver, "Privacy Policy," 30 Nov. 2012 Swift disabled the comments on the video, but fans are already chiming in through other forms of social media, like Twitter. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Taylor Swift's Newest Snake Video Is the Creepiest One Yet," 23 Aug. 2017 Several surveillance systems across the city were disabled in the recent heat wave, Bronin said, and the city had been working as recently as Tuesday afternoon to repair them. Matthew Ormseth, courant.com, "Timeline Of A Tragedy: Hours Passed Before Drowned Boy Was Reported Missing, City Cameras Failed To Alert Police," 6 July 2018 Police said an initial investigation revealed a vehicle was disabled in the right lane of northbound U.S. 169 without its lights on. Max Londberg, kansascity, "Victim identified in fatal three-vehicle wreck near KC's downtown airport," 21 June 2018 The lottery winners, on average, were slightly happier than the control group, and the recently disabled were slightly less happy — but neither group diverged from the norm as drastically as would be expected. Adam Sternbergh, The Cut, "Read This Story and Get Happier," 28 May 2018 The pole supported a Transtar camera, which was disabled in the crash. Shelby Webb, Houston Chronicle, "Woman killed after slamming into pole on Grand Parkway feeder road," 19 May 2018 Today is Peace Officers Memorial Day, which pays tribute to federal, state and local law-enforcement officers who died or were disabled in the line of duty. Jeff Weiner, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Peace Officers Memorial Day: These Orlando-area officers lost their lives on duty in the past decade," 15 May 2018 Those references no longer exist and pages on the site appear to have been disabled in the past 24 hours. Nicole Hong, WSJ, "How a Firm That Paid Stormy Daniels Hush Money Became Enmeshed in Federal Probes," 10 May 2018

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

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Phrases Related to disable

the disabled

the disabled list

Statistics for disable

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for disable

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

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More Definitions for disable


dis·able | \dis-ˈā-bəl \
disabled; disabling

Kids Definition of disable

: to make unable or incapable He disabled the computer system.


transitive verb
dis·able | \dis-ˈā-bəl, diz- \
disabled; disabling\-b(ə-)liŋ \

Medical Definition of disable 

: to deprive of a mental or physical capacity


transitive verb
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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Comments on disable

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not any or not one

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