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 Daigle, who is permanently disabled, may be traveling in a blue 1984 AMG van with black rims. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, "Lee County Sheriff’s Office searching for missing disabled man, 47," 6 Jan. 2020 These home monitoring features can be disabled at any time. David Nield, Popular Science, "10 tricks to master your Google Nest Hub," 6 Jan. 2020 Bridge disabled by lawnmower In June, the Center Street swing bridge over the Cuyahoga River in the Flats was knocked out of commission by a wayward lawn tractor operated by a city worker. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "Wacky, wonky, embarrassments and developments led readers’ most-read stories from Cleveland City Hall," 26 Dec. 2019 Matthews said he was disabled by a stroke in May 2017, requiring hospitalization for a month. Stephen Singer, courant.com, "Grilled by state lawmakers, ex-officials of the Connecticut Port Authority defend practices criticized in state audit," 4 Dec. 2019 Some states require employers to provide unpaid leave and health care to women who are disabled by pregnancy, for example, but others don’t. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pregnancy discrimination continues, 41 years after US ban," 12 Oct. 2019 More: Jim Beam looking at $50 million loss as bourbon continues to burn, killing fish Police said Bowman is disabled due to traumatic brain injury and has severe memory loss. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "Golden Alert cancelled for 61-year-old last seen Wednesday in Louisville," 5 July 2019 And rig system alarms were disabled by the workers. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Report finds sweeping blame and negligence for fatal Oklahoma rig explosion," 12 June 2019 The feature caused confusion this week when security reporter Brian Krebs reported that Apple's new iPhone 11 Pro was seeking a user's location even when the phone's Location Services were disabled. Ahiza Garcia, CNN, "Apple says it isn't tracking your phone if location sharing is turned off," 5 Dec. 2019

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

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disable.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disablements. Accessed 29 January 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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More from Merriam-Webster on disable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with disable

Spanish Central: Translation of disable

Nglish: Translation of disable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of disable for Arabic Speakers

Comments on disable

What made you want to look up disable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to assert without proof or before proving

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