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

Brumley also recommended that users disable SMT in their BIOS or choose platforms that don’t offer it at all. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Intel CPUs fall to new hyperthreading exploit that pilfers crypto keys," 2 Nov. 2018 Some seamen, however, have languished in captivity for months or even years because their companies balked at coughing up—often because their ship was uninsured, or had run aground, or had been disabled by fire, or had sunk. The Economist, "A new approach to Somali pirates frees more hostages," 28 June 2018 The best outcome would be not just freezing but disabling and dismantling all of their existing programs on a compressed time frame. Joseph Hincks/seoul, Time, "Victor Cha on What to Expect from the Trump-Kim Summit," 7 June 2018 In previous centuries, warriors on the South Pacific island used these blades in close-quarters combat to kill outright, finish off foes wounded by arrows or spears, or disable and capture enemies. Michael Price, Science | AAAS, "These daggers made from human bone were a deadly asset on the battlefield," 24 Apr. 2018 He was supposed to pay the charity for the developmentally disabled within days, but days turned to weeks, months and years. Jose Lambiet, miamiherald, "Socialite finally pays up $60,000 after being sued by Best Buddies | Miami Herald," 20 Apr. 2018 Washington is reverberating with speculation that Trump, infuriated by revelations emerging from a stunning FBI raid on his personal attorney, could seek to disable or shut down Robert Mueller's special counsel probe. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Real-world consequences at stake in Trump's Russian roulette," 12 Apr. 2018 Deleting, rejecting, disabling or turning off HTTP cookies as described above will not remove flash cookies. Marie Claire, "Privacy Policy," 1 Dec. 2014 TLBleed was worrisome enough to prompt developers to disable hyperthreading in OpenBSD, the operating system that prioritizes security. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Intel CPUs fall to new hyperthreading exploit that pilfers crypto keys," 2 Nov. 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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6 Dec 2018

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on disable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with disable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disable

Spanish Central: Translation of disable

Nglish: Translation of disable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of disable for Arabic Speakers

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