dis·​en·​fran·​chise | \ˌdis-in-ˈfran-ˌchīz \

Definition of disenfranchise 

transitive verb

: to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity especially : to deprive of the right to vote disenfranchising the poor and elderly

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Other Words from disenfranchise

disenfranchisement \ -​ˌchīz-​mənt , -​chəz-​ \ noun

What Does It Mean to Disenfranchise Someone?

Disenfranchise first appeared in English in the 17th century, preceded for a period of some 200 years by the now uncommon word disfranchise. Though both words are, rather obviously, related to franchise, they have nothing to do with that word’s current sense “a team that is a member of a professional sports league." The original meaning of franchise was “freedom from servitude or restraint.” Although disenfranchise does broadly signify depriving someone of any of a number of legal rights, it is most often used today of withholding the right to vote, or of the diminished social or political status of a marginalized group.

Examples of disenfranchise in a Sentence

They disenfranchised poor people by making property ownership a requirement for registering to vote.

Recent Examples on the Web

Historically, East Austin residents have been disenfranchised in every way by people in positions of power. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "How bike advocate Katie Deolloz gets around Austin," 19 Oct. 2018 The state’s brief noted that Walker, in his Feb. 1 order, acknowledged that states have the power to pass laws that disenfranchise convicted felons by permanently stripping their right to vote. Steve Bousquet, miamiherald, "Scott and Cabinet want sole power to change felon voting rights | Miami Herald," 12 Feb. 2018 Countless citizens either already have been or soon will be disenfranchised as a result of that ruling, one of the worst in the court’s long history. Andrew Cohen, The New Republic, "Anthony Kennedy Was No Moderate," 27 June 2018 The Civil Rights Act banned discrimination in public facilities and employment and the Voting Rights Act, enacted a year later, barred practices aimed at disenfranchising black voters. Preston Mitchum, The Root, "Brown v. Board of Education,," 17 May 2018 This pattern of non-voting, with the unreturned missive in the middle, resulted in Ohio disenfranchising Mr Harmon. The Economist, "A divided Supreme Court strikes a blow for lower election turnouts," 14 June 2018 Florida leads nation in disenfranchising former felons Advertisement Florida excludes more former felons from voting than any other state because of its restrictive restoration of rights laws. Elizabeth Koh, miamiherald, "Here are the 13 constitutional amendments on Florida’s 2018 ballot and what they do," 14 June 2018 About 26,000 voters in Maricopa County alone have been disenfranchised, according to the Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan group that supported the plaintiffs. Dustin Gardiner, azcentral, "Republican secretary of state candidates spar over Arizona's voter-registration rules," 6 July 2018 That's exactly the case in Ohio after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday (by a 5-4 vote) that the state could continue a process for purging inactive voters from the registration rolls—a move some believe will disenfranchise thousands. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "How Ohio's 'Use It or Lose It' Voter Purge Could Affect Other States," 11 June 2018

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

1664, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for disenfranchise

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for disenfranchise

The first known use of disenfranchise was in 1664

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More Definitions for disenfranchise



English Language Learners Definition of disenfranchise

: to prevent (a person or group of people) from having the right to vote


dis·​en·​fran·​chise | \ˌdi-sᵊn-ˈfran-ˌchīz \
disenfranchised; disenfranchising

Kids Definition of disenfranchise

: to deprive of the right to vote

Other Words from disenfranchise

disenfranchisement \ -​ˈfran-​ˌchīz-​mənt \ noun


transitive verb
dis·​en·​fran·​chise | \ˌdis-ᵊn-ˈfran-ˌchīz \
disenfranchised; disenfranchising

Legal Definition of disenfranchise 

Other Words from disenfranchise

disenfranchisement noun

More from Merriam-Webster on disenfranchise

Spanish Central: Translation of disenfranchise

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by force of circumstances

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