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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from disenfranchise

disenfranchisement \ ˌdis-​in-​ˈfran-​ˌchīz-​mənt How to pronounce disenfranchisement (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 But today, technology can supercharge these feelings, and sometimes helps people give into their worst inclinations. Privileged (often white) users are defining safety by excluding those who are already disenfranchised (usually people of color). Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "Are neighborhood watch apps making us safer?," 29 Oct. 2019 The plaintiffs — Debra Rhodes, Gloria Mounger, Thomas Williams, Laura Dennis, and Vivian Wordlaw — argued the vacancy left them disenfranchised and violated the Voting Rights Act. Kathleen Gray, USA TODAY, "Complaint to hold earlier elections to replace Rep. John Conyers dismissed," 1 Apr. 2018 That claim must be qualified by the broad swath of Americans—blacks, immigrants, women—who were disenfranchised. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Is Patriotism Possible?," 21 Aug. 2019 Still, the ranks of those disenfranchised for felony convictions have increased, reflecting decades when incarceration rates were swelling. Jon Kamp, WSJ, "A Voting Rights Push: Allowing Felons to Cast Ballots," 10 May 2018 Yet even with the passage of the 19th amendment, states and municipalities continued to ignore their enforcement, disenfranchising people of color across the nation. Teen Vogue, "The 19th Amendment Only Really Helped White Women," 16 Aug. 2019 Nationwide, Republicans have defended laws disenfranchising voters due to criminal convictions. Jane C. Timm, NBC News, "States rethink prisoner voting rights as incarceration rates rise," 26 Feb. 2018 There are all sorts of crazy representational systems that were created that would not give one person one vote, and that would disenfranchise certain minorities. Jay Cost, National Review, "Chris Hayes and Progressives’ Lack of Respect for the Constitution," 3 Sep. 2019 The battle over purges has generally broken down on partisan lines: Republicans have defended the purges as necessary to preserve the integrity of Ohio’s elections, while Democrats claim it’s a ploy to disenfranchise voters in blue-leaning areas. Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com, "Purged Ohio voters can cast provisional ballots through 2022, under legal settlement," 29 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of disenfranchise

1664, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for disenfranchise

Last Updated

13 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Disenfranchise.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disenfranchises. Accessed 22 November 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for disenfranchise


How to pronounce disenfranchise (audio)

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 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

Spanish Central: Translation of disenfranchise

Comments on disenfranchise

What made you want to look up disenfranchise? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not agreeing with established beliefs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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