dis·​ar·​ray | \ ˌdis-ə-ˈrā How to pronounce disarray (audio) \

Definition of disarray

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a lack of order or sequence : confusion, disorder the room was in disarray … the disarray of paper in the In-Out basket …— Jackie Weger
2 : disorderly dress : dishabille


disarrayed; disarraying; disarrays

Definition of disarray (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to throw into disorder The discarded magazines and newspapers, the layers of dust and disarrayed rugs …— Gloria Naylor
2 : undress

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Examples of disarray in a Sentence

Noun The room was in disarray. The company has fallen into complete disarray. Verb he had accidentally disarrayed his brother's CDs, leaving a telltale sign of borrowing without permission
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Witnesses blamed the violent disarray partly on the fact that many gunmen downtown were strangers to one another, with some on rooftops acting as spotters to call in reinforcements and no one in command. Lyndon French • New York Times, Star Tribune, "A few keystrokes summon vigilantes to Kenosha, Wisconsin," 17 Oct. 2020 Witnesses blamed the violent disarray partly on the fact that many gunmen downtown were strangers to one another, with some on rooftops acting as spotters to call in reinforcements and no one in command. Neil Macfarquhar, New York Times, "When Armed Vigilantes Are Summoned With a Few Keystrokes," 16 Oct. 2020 Responding officers found the apartment in disarray as if someone were looking for something specific. cleveland, "Unknown boy requests bathroom and laundry assistance from residents: Mayfield Heights Police Blotter," 7 Feb. 2021 Wilson's Greg is fired from his job and his family is in disarray. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, "Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek team for a 'Bliss' that's more of a miss," 4 Feb. 2021 The killings and arrests appear to have left the TPLF in disarray. The Economist, "After two months of war, Tigray faces starvation," 23 Jan. 2021 About 10 percent of those treated with antibiotics develop lasting symptoms, including fatigue, pain and occasionally nervous-system conditions like dysautonomia — heart rate, blood pressure and other basic bodily functions in disarray. New York Times, "What If You Never Get Better From Covid-19?," 21 Jan. 2021 The noise and disarray contribute to the war-zone atmosphere. Carrie Teegardin, ajc, "At COVID front lines: The unimaginable becomes reality," 22 Jan. 2021 Wetlands are also known as swamps, and there is a long history of thinking of swamps not just as one of nature’s most unruly forms — something to be drained, filled in, leveled away — but also as a symbol for human disarray. Washington Post, "New Native American memorial offers peace in the heart of one of the city’s few wild spaces," 31 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Culley assumes a tough challenge of changing the culture of a Texans franchise that in the last year has gone from playoff squad to disarray. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Texans expected to hire Ravens assistant David Culley as head coach," 28 Jan. 2021 The economic benefits are nothing compared to disarray and division within NATO. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Choice," 16 Dec. 2020 Naird’s situation is of a man with ramrod-straight posture prostrated and disarrayed at many odd angles. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "In Netflix’s “Space Force,” Steve Carell Is Stranded Between the Caustic and the Cutesy," 28 May 2020 Large or small, the surface had to appear elegantly disarrayed. Julie Lasky, New York Times, "These Custom Designs Are Anything but Customary," 11 Mar. 2020 In this one, the first of a series published from 1935 to 1961, readers are introduced to a nervous Londoner named Pongo Twistleton, whose orderly life is disarrayed by the visit of his peremptory and mischievous uncle Fred from the country. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: Surprise Lessons From John Lithgow’s ‘Stories by Heart’," 11 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disarray.' 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 disarray


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for disarray


Middle English disaraye, disaray "disorder, broken military formation," borrowed from Anglo-French dissairay, noun derivative of desaraier "to mishandle, throw into disorder" — more at disarray entry 2


Middle English disarraien "to break up (a military formation), throw into disorder," borrowed from Anglo-French desaraier "to mishandle, throw into disorder," from des- dis- + arraier, arreyer, aroier "to arrange, order, marshal, equip, attire" — more at array entry 1

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Time Traveler for disarray

Time Traveler

The first known use of disarray was in the 14th century

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Statistics for disarray

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Disarray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disarray. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for disarray



English Language Learners Definition of disarray

: a lack of order : a confused or messy condition


dis·​ar·​ray | \ ˌdis-ə-ˈrā How to pronounce disarray (audio) \

Kids Definition of disarray

: a confused or messy condition The room was in complete disarray.

More from Merriam-Webster on disarray

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disarray

Nglish: Translation of disarray for Spanish Speakers

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