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

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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 Some school systems have emerged from a state takeover only to fall back into disarray. Talia Richman, Dallas News, "The state has stepped in. A criminal investigation is likely. What happens next for DeSoto schools all depends on its leaders," 13 Nov. 2020 Kohl had been considering adding holiday lights at the beginning of the year, before the pandemic threw plans worldwide into disarray, Delfini said. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Christmas lights preview: Tis the season (already) — and a newcomer, Kohl Children’s Museum, joins the holiday displays," 11 Nov. 2020 Tuesday’s election in Maryland arrived after months of tumult, thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic that threw the state’s standard election plans into disarray. Emily Opilo, baltimoresun.com, "'Great for politics’: Maryland voters, election officials, candidates kept up with changing election methods," 4 Nov. 2020 Those plans were thrown into disarray when law-enforcement officers in riot gear and gas masks insisted that demonstrators move off the street and clear county property, despite a permit authorizing their presence. Anchorage Daily News, "Peaceful march for voting rights in North Carolina is met with police pepper spray and arrests," 2 Nov. 2020 Prices for cheeses from mozzarella to cheddar hit near-record highs this month, but cheese makers are on edge after sharp swings in demand have thrown their production plans into disarray. Jesse Newman And Kirk Maltais, WSJ, "Cheese Makers Reel as Pandemic Sows Market Chaos," 28 Oct. 2020 Hernandez, an office services coordinator for a law firm, marveled at the Dodgers’ ability to gut out the season, despite a pandemic that threw the league into disarray. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, "Dodgers’ World Series win gives L.A. a joyous night in a year of such misery," 27 Oct. 2020 COVID-19 sent IndyCar and the whole sporting world at-large into disarray. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "IndyCar drivers remember the hours leading up to postponed St. Pete race in March," 25 Oct. 2020 Money matters: Even though Householder’s arrest threw House Republicans' campaigns into disarray, the caucus has still outraised House Democrats, according to the latest round of campaign-finance reports. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, "Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder’s campaign spends nearly $1m on defense lawyers: Capitol Letter," 23 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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

16 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disarray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disarray. Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for disarray


How to pronounce disarray (audio)

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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