dis·​avow | \ ˌdis-ə-ˈvau̇ How to pronounce disavow (audio) \
disavowed; disavowing; disavows

Definition of disavow

transitive verb

1 : to deny responsibility for : repudiate disavowed the actions of his subordinates
2 : to refuse to acknowledge or accept : disclaim party leaders disavowed him … have publicly disavowed any claim on the Graceland estate.— Dan Chu

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Other Words from disavow

disavowable \ ˌdis-​ə-​ˈvau̇-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce disavowable (audio) \ adjective
disavowal \ ˌdis-​ə-​ˈvau̇(-​ə)l How to pronounce disavowal (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

If you trace the etymology of disavow back through Middle English to Anglo-French, you'll arrive eventually at the prefix des- and the verb avouer, meaning "to avow." The prefix des- in turn derives from the Latin prefix dis-, meaning "apart." That Latin prefix plays a significant role in many current English words, including "disadvantage," "disappoint," and "disagree." "Avouer" is from Latin advocare, meaning "to summon," and is also the source of our word advocate.

Examples of disavow in a Sentence

He disavowed the actions of his subordinates. She now seems to be trying to disavow her earlier statements.
Recent Examples on the Web Democrats have called on Republicans to disavow Trump's comments. Scott Wartman, The Enquirer, "Portman gives Trump benefit of the doubt on reported comments about America's war dead being 'suckers.'," 9 Sep. 2020 The solution is for Trump to disavow the instigators. Jamelle Bouie New York Times, Star Tribune, "Trump needs to disavow violent extremists on the right," 1 Sep. 2020 Molly McKew, who independently researches and writes about disinformation, compared the Republican response to QAnon to Mr. Trump's declining to disavow an endorsement by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke during his 2016 campaign. Aaron Navarro, CBS News, "Trump makes it complicated for Republicans looking to stay away from QAnon," 27 Aug. 2020 Sabra was forced to decide whether to disavow his religion or be punished by getting the answers wrong on the quiz, the lawsuit said. Lorraine Longhi, The Arizona Republic, "Court dismisses case against Scottsdale Community College professor over Islamic terrorism questions," 21 Aug. 2020 After more than a dozen police officers were injured during a July 25 clash with protesters, Police Chief Carmen Best asked members of the City Council to disavow the demonstrations. Dominick Mastrangelo, Washington Examiner, "Seattle City Council votes to scale back police department funding as officer pay on chopping block," 10 Aug. 2020 That ruthless dynamic drove former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers yesterday to disavow any interest in returning to the federal government. Adam Aton, Scientific American, "Inside Joe Biden’s Network of Climate Advisers," 7 Aug. 2020 Sarah Sanders refused to disavow Trump’s claim that journalists were the enemies of the people. Maggie Haberman, BostonGlobe.com, "McEnany heckles the press. Is that all?," 2 Aug. 2020 Even after the backlash threatened his business, Unanue did not disavow his words. Emily Heil, Houston Chronicle, "A Goya boycott has people sharing alternatives for adobo, sazón and more pantry staples," 10 July 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for disavow

Middle English desavowen, from Anglo-French desavouer, from des- dis- + avouer to avow

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The first known use of disavow was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

13 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disavow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disavow. Accessed 29 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for disavow


How to pronounce disavow (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of disavow

formal : to say that you are not responsible for (something) : to deny that you know about or are involved in (something)

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Britannica English: Translation of disavow for Arabic Speakers

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