dis·​abuse ˌdis-ə-ˈbyüz How to pronounce disabuse (audio)
disabused; disabusing; disabuses

transitive verb

: to free from error, misconception, or fallacy (see fallacy sense 1a)
was quickly disabused of the idea that anything had changed

Did you know?

Taken as a product of its parts, one might assume that disabuse means “to not abuse.” While the usage has changed over the years, that assumption isn’t entirely wrong. We know the verb abuse as a word with various meanings having to do with bad physical or verbal treatment, as well as incorrect or excessive use, but when disabuse first appeared in the 17th century, there was a sense of abuse, now obsolete, that meant “to deceive.” Francis Bacon used that meaning, for example, when he wrote in 1605, “You are much abused if you think your virtue can withstand the King’s power.” The prefix dis- has the sense of undoing the effect of a verb, so it’s logical that disabuse means “to undeceive.” English speakers didn’t come up with the idea of joining dis- to abuse all on their own, however. It was the French who first appended their prefix dés- to their verb abuser; our disabuse is modeled after the French word désabuser.

Examples of disabuse in a Sentence

let me disabuse you of your foolish notions
Recent Examples on the Web Anyone imagining that a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction could be the thing that finally bring the Gallagher brothers together for an Oasis reunion has been disabused of that notion by Liam Gallagher. Chris Willman, Variety, 12 Feb. 2024 Indeed, Biden and his advisers seem to think that hiding the president from the public would disabuse voters of their impression that his physical condition is rapidly deteriorating. Audrey Fahlberg, National Review, 7 Feb. 2024 Bill Clinton’s supporters will be quick to disabuse you of the notion that the 42nd president was impeached for obstructing Congress and lying under oath. Noah Rothman, National Review, 4 Jan. 2024 No one finds the idea of a Fenian assassin in hiding more romantic than Minnie, and Donal is flattered (and horny) enough not to disabuse her. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 13 Oct. 2023 The goal is not to isolate or encircle China but to disabuse any notion that Beijing could succeed in forming a cohesive anti-Western coalition that could fulfill China’s development and security requirements. Ryan Hass, Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 That said, Singer’s indifference to coherence doesn’t entirely disabuse a viewer of staying the course. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, 29 Sep. 2023 If his son regarded your leaving as a personal rejection, Dan may be able to disabuse him of that idea and patch things up. Abigail Van Buren, cleveland, 19 Sep. 2023 Five wars with Israel thoroughly disabused them of that notion. Kenneth M. Pollack, Foreign Affairs, 19 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disabuse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French désabuser, from dés- dis- + abuser to abuse

First Known Use

1669, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of disabuse was in 1669


Dictionary Entries Near disabuse

Cite this Entry

“Disabuse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disabuse. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


dis·​abuse ˌdis-ə-ˈbyüz How to pronounce disabuse (audio)
: to free from mistakes or false beliefs
disabuse us of our errors

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