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

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 Although leasing activity has picked up, the omicron variant has pushed coronavirus cases to record highs in California and the Bay Area, throwing office return plans into disarray. Roland Li, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Jan. 2022 After graduating from high school in 2013, Daniel Church pursued an ambitious bachelor’s/master’s degree program in computer technology at Baker but said the department began to lose faculty and fell into disarray. David Jesse And Anna Clark, Freep.com, 12 Jan. 2022 After graduating from high school in 2013, Daniel Church pursued an ambitious bachelor’s/master’s degree program in computer technology at Baker but said the department began to lose faculty and fell into disarray. Anna Clark, ProPublica, 12 Jan. 2022 Denmark’s two intelligence services have been thrown into disarray since four current and former employees were detained in December over allegations of leaking highly classified information, a case that could bruise the agencies’ reputation abroad. Washington Post, 10 Jan. 2022 Technological change doesn’t need to be substantive to throw state tax laws and regulations into disarray; the seemingly most insignificant change can cause a disruption of magnitude. Roxanne Bland, Forbes, 3 Jan. 2022 The omicron variant has thrown America's great return to the office into disarray – perhaps for months. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, 23 Dec. 2021 The virus threw their tenuous patchwork into disarray, with his wife working from home with toddler twins underfoot. Alison Bowen, chicagotribune.com, 22 Dec. 2021 Elsewhere, some shows on Broadway in New York have been in disarray with cancellations and COVID shutdowns. Doug George, chicagotribune.com, 5 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The hands-off approach in Washington is adding to disarray around the death penalty nationwide as pressure increases in some conservative states to find ways to continue executions amid shortages of the lethal-injection drugs. Michael Tarm, Anchorage Daily News, 18 June 2021 Eslam Negm is no stranger to disarray on the Suez Canal. NBC News, 2 Apr. 2021 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, 28 Jan. 2021 The economic benefits are nothing compared to disarray and division within NATO. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 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, 28 May 2020 Large or small, the surface had to appear elegantly disarrayed. Julie Lasky, New York Times, 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, 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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The first known use of disarray was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

21 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Disarray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disarray. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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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

Nglish: Translation of disarray for Spanish Speakers


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