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

transitive verb

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

Did you know?

When is a vow not a vow? When it has been disavowed, for one. Let’s say you make a solemn pledge to eat green vegetables every day of the week and twice on Sundays. If a few months down the cruciferous road you decide such a diet is for the rabbits, you might disavow (that is, repudiate or deny responsibility for) your earlier vow. Or perhaps you stick to it, going so far as to eat nothing but brassicas 24/7. Well, in that case, your local chapter of the Carnivore’s Club might illustrate another meaning of disavow by disavowing you (refusing to acknowledge or accept you) as a member any longer. Now when is a vow not avow? You might be surprised to learn that vow and avow/disavow are not related. Though all three words came to English from Latin via Anglo-French, they have distinct roots: vow comes from the Latin verb vovēre, meaning “to vow,” while avow and disavow trace back to the verb advocare, meaning “to summon.” We stand by it: there’s no denying that disavow has history.

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 The only permanent member of the court who voted against all the measures was a representative of Uganda, and the country has since disavowed the dissent. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 7 Feb. 2024 Following the announcement, the fitness guru disavowed the project on social media. EW.com, 27 Jan. 2024 Shore addressed the controversy that arose when Simmons disavowed this short and another upcoming Simmons biopic starring Shore. Vulture, 24 Jan. 2024 But a fan like Devine disavowing Dallas, which hasn't reached a conference championship game in almost 30 years, speaks to something more seriously amiss in Cowboy Nation. Sean Gregory, TIME, 19 Jan. 2024 But many historians – and at times some of King’s own children – have disagreed with the notion that Dr. King would have disavowed affirmative action. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 14 Jan. 2024 No physical evidence tied Cotton to the crime, the judge wrote, and witnesses had changed or disavowed their earlier testimony. Anna Clark, ProPublica, 2 Jan. 2024 But, when the moderators reminded her of that history, Haley just about disavowed it. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker, 11 Jan. 2024 Lululemon disavowed its founder Chip Wilson’s comments criticizing the athletic clothing company’s DEI stance. Ruth Umoh, Fortune, 10 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near disavow

Cite this Entry

“Disavow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disavow. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


dis·​avow ˌdis-ə-ˈvau̇ How to pronounce disavow (audio)
: to deny having, knowing, or being responsible for
will disavow any knowledge of your activities
disavowal noun

More from Merriam-Webster on disavow

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!