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 And one potential prenatal therapy for Angelman syndrome harnesses the same gene-editing molecules to disable the RNA that muffles expression of UBE3A. Lydia Denworth, Science | AAAS, "Is gene therapy ready to treat some forms of autism?," 14 Oct. 2020 And the platform will temporarily disable users’ ability to post content on pages that are under investigation until the attention dies down. Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY, "Yelp launches alert that identifies businesses accused of racism," 8 Oct. 2020 The jailbreak could also be weaponized by malicious hackers, though, to disable macOS security features like System Integrity Protection and Secure Boot and install malware. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "Apple's T2 Security Chip Has an Unfixable Flaw," 6 Oct. 2020 Users who do not want cross-app messaging between Instagram and Messenger will be able to disable it. Fortune, "Instagram and Messenger users will soon be able to chat across apps," 30 Sep. 2020 In any manner that could disable, overburden, damage, or impair the Services or interfere with any other party’s use of the Services. Tim Fitzpatrick, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Terms of Service," 23 Sep. 2020 Ramsey fired eight shots to disable the car, which was successful. Kaylee Remington, cleveland, "Grand jury won’t charge Lorain County SWAT team member in fatal shooting of 62-year-old man in 2018," 22 Sep. 2020 These mistakes lead to gene mismatches that help the virus avoid host defense mechanisms (that recognize infecting sequences and disable them) and thus enable evolutionary advantage, including access to new hosts. Members Of The Ocean Memory Project, Scientific American, "The Ocean Carries 'Memories' of SARS-CoV-2," 15 Aug. 2020 The police used a massive .50 caliber rifle to disable the engine of the truck. Scott Wartman, The Enquirer, "There'll be a new sheriff in Hamilton County. Here's what you need to know about one of the region's most heated races," 21 Sep. 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

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disable. Accessed 27 Oct. 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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