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

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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 Kemp, as secretary of state, had ordered a series of voter roll purges and made other decisions Democrats argued were aimed at disenfranchising minority voters. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Stacey Abrams gambles her political future with vice-presidential gambit," 30 Apr. 2020 The only purpose served by cancelling an election when there is no actual vacancy is to avoid an election — that is, to disenfranchise voters. Bill Rankin, ajc, "Voters file federal lawsuit to force election for GA Supreme Court seat," 31 Mar. 2020 But on the face of it, rule 14.B seems to disenfranchise many voters. Chris Wilson, Time, "This Democratic Primary Rule Made Elizabeth Warren's Revival All But Impossible," 6 Mar. 2020 Election officials and security experts warn that bad information on social media, more than cyberattacks, pose a greater risk to potentially mislead or disenfranchise voters. Alexa Corse, WSJ, "When Is the Voter Registration Deadline in Oklahoma? Facebook Almost Flubbed It," 7 Feb. 2020 So yet another state in America wants to disenfranchise its voters. Washington Post, "Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent Wisconsin editorials," 20 Jan. 2020 Democrats have more core constituencies among the nation’s disenfranchised, and both parties have long believed that easier voting measures will benefit Democrats. New York Times, "Republicans Pursue Limits on Voting by Mail, Despite the Coronavirus," 8 Apr. 2020 Thousands of voters will be disenfranchised if the Supreme Court grants the RNC’s request, according to the DNC. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The US Supreme Court is handling its first emergency pandemic matter—it’s about elections," 6 Apr. 2020 Fake Election Day information could disenfranchise voters by sending them to the wrong polling place. Jack Gillum, ProPublica, "Some Election-Related Websites Still Run on Vulnerable Software Older Than Many High Schoolers," 2 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for disenfranchise

Time Traveler

The first known use of disenfranchise was in 1664

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Statistics for disenfranchise

Last Updated

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disenfranchise.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disenfranchise. Accessed 24 May. 2020.

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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

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Spanish Central: Translation of disenfranchise

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