dis·​avow | \ˌdis-ə-ˈvau̇ \

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 \ -​ə-​bəl \ adjective
disavowal \ -​ˈvau̇(-​ə)l \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for disavow


deny, disclaim, disown, repudiate


acknowledge, avow, claim, own, recognize

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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

Nehlen, who’s been identified as a white nationalist, has been suspended from Twitter and disavowed by the Wisconsin Republican Party for anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric. Carrie Dann, NBC News, "Paul Ryan's congressional district has been a battleground," 11 Apr. 2018 State party officials have no records of him ever serving as a delegate and have disavowed any knowledge of him. Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, "Neo-Nazi Senate candidate Patrick Little kicked out of Republican convention," 5 May 2018 Though his songs charted with regularity, celebrities such as comedian Eric Andre began disavowing the rapper, and asking others to follow suit. chicagotribune.com, "Rapper XXXTentacion fatally shot in Florida at age 20," 19 June 2018 Trump did not disavow Nugent’s use of the same word against Clinton, or criticize his followers’ use of the word during his campaign. latimes.com, "Calendar Letters: Samantha Bee, Roseanne Barr and competing views of hypocrisy," 9 June 2018 What was not mentioned in Cornell’s letter disavowing Mr. Meier’s gift was any decision on whether to return his past donations to the school, including a scholarship for graduate architecture students. Sopan Deb, New York Times, "When #MeToo Infamy Taints Your Famous Benefactor," 2 Apr. 2018 Cox said, calling on Villaraigosa to disavow the flood of harsh ads and mailers. John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, "How California political ads fool voters, while candidates keep hands clean," 30 May 2018 Despite several opportunities to do so, President Trump has never disavowed any of his prior statements about Islam. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "The Supreme Court Backed Trump's Travel Ban, but Judges Sotomayor and Ginsburg Aren't Having It," 27 June 2018 Roberts also referred to that ruling — and, in fact, expressly disavowed it, for the first time in the court’s history. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Travel ban: Ruling a big win for Trump and presidential power," 27 June 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

24 Oct 2018

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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



English Language Learners Definition of disavow

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

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Comments on disavow

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noxious or harmful

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