dis·​en·​fran·​chise | \ ˌdis-in-ˈfran-ˌchīz How to pronounce disenfranchise (audio) \
disenfranchised; disenfranchising; disenfranchises

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

Other Words from disenfranchise

disenfranchisement \ ˌdis-​in-​ˈfran-​ˌchīz-​mənt How to pronounce disenfranchise (audio) , -​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 Did the Republican Legislature just stumble across a unicorn map that happened to effectively disenfranchise a large portion of the state? Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, 23 Mar. 2022 Then there was the lawmaker on the commission who questioned whether poll taxes, levied largely to disenfranchise Black and poor citizens, were racist. Roy S. Johnson | Rjohnson@al.com, al, 17 Mar. 2022 Today, the single-member status quo benefits a party that’s utilized its power in Washington and at the state level to disenfranchise minority voters. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 7 Mar. 2022 For example, planting forests on land that was not previously forested—a growing practice as companies pursue carbon offset credits—can exacerbate food and water scarcity, harm biodiversity, and disenfranchise low-income rural communities. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 28 Feb. 2022 Lawmakers in as many as one in five states have considered legislation to require voters show proof of citizenship – a requirement that drew a federal lawsuit this week and that voting access advocates worry could disenfranchise millions of voters. Rick Rouan, USA TODAY, 8 July 2022 Voting rights advocates had warned that such a measure could disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, 5 July 2022 Civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit alleging that Riverside County’s new voting districts disenfranchise Latino voters. Felicia Alvarez, Los Angeles Times, 16 June 2022 The Michigan Supreme Court recently rejected a lawsuit alleging that the new maps would illegally disenfranchise Black voters. Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press, 25 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of disenfranchise

1664, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About disenfranchise

Time Traveler for disenfranchise

Time Traveler

The first known use of disenfranchise was in 1664

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near disenfranchise




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for disenfranchise

Last Updated

28 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Disenfranchise.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disenfranchise. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for disenfranchise


dis·​en·​fran·​chise | \ ˌdi-sᵊn-ˈfran-ˌchīz How to pronounce disenfranchise (audio) \
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 How to pronounce disenfranchise (audio) \
disenfranchised; disenfranchising

Legal Definition of disenfranchise

Other Words from disenfranchise

disenfranchisement noun

More from Merriam-Webster on disenfranchise

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disenfranchise


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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