disavow

verb
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

Mallory’s unwillingness to disavow Farrakhan makes more sense in the context of the history of the Nation of Islam, some have argued. Anna North, Vox, "The Women’s March changed the American left. Now anti-Semitism allegations threaten the group’s future.," 21 Dec. 2018 Last week, the state of Hawaii argued in the Supreme Court that Trump hasn't disavowed his anti-Muslim statements — and so those discriminatory remarks continue to color his proclamation barring visitors from certain predominately Muslim countries. Gregory Korte, USA TODAY, "Trump won't apologize for Muslim comments: 'It wouldn't make 10 cents worth of difference'," 30 Apr. 2018 Don’t expect the secretary to disavow any knowledge of this Impossible Missions Force’s activities. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "A hot summer for actresses," 26 Apr. 2018 In his 20s and 30s, Johnson was an advocate of fascism and Nazism but later disavowed them. Brenda Cronin, WSJ, "‘Man in the Glass House’ Examines an Architect of the 20th Century," 3 Nov. 2018 Since then, however, seemingly every Five Star and League leader has disavowed their antagonism to the euro, or rather denied ever harboring any hostility to it whatsoever. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Italy’s Populist Parties Win Approval to Form Government," 31 May 2018 But as the week unfolded, the administration stuck to a number of different strategies in an attempt to disavow the work of its own experts. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Trump administration organizes pushback against its own climate report," 3 Dec. 2018 The California Republican Party disavowed Little and kicked him out of its convention in San Diego earlier this month. Seema Mehta, latimes.com, "New poll finds a volatile race for second place in California governor's contest," 22 May 2018 Zinke’s move has been disavowed by 17 former Department of the Interior officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations, 500 organizations from all 50 states, and dozens of members of Congress in both the House and the Senate. Sarah Greenberger, Vox, "I worked in the Interior Department. Watching Zinke’s tenure was heartbreaking.," 21 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for disavow

Last Updated

9 May 2019

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Time Traveler for disavow

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

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More Definitions for disavow

disavow

verb

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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More from Merriam-Webster on disavow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with disavow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disavow

Britannica English: Translation of disavow for Arabic Speakers

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