dis·​en·​gage ˌdis-in-ˈgāj How to pronounce disengage (audio)
disengaged; disengaging; disengages

transitive verb

: to release from something that engages or involves

intransitive verb

: to release or detach oneself : withdraw
disengagement noun

Example Sentences

The two dancers moved together in a series of quick movements before disengaging and leaping apart. Put the car in gear, and then slowly disengage the clutch while pressing on the gas pedal. If there is a malfunction, the gears will automatically disengage.
Recent Examples on the Web Teachers, principals and other employees have reported that cellphones are causing many students to disengage during instruction. Teri Webster, Dallas News, 8 Aug. 2022 The Driver system didn’t disengage at any point, suggesting the trip went about as well as possible. Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2023 Employees may disengage from their work for many reasons, from demands in their personal life to dissatisfaction with their career choices. Michael Deprisco, Quartz, 8 Nov. 2022 Others may prefer to isolate and disengage from small talk or group settings. Wendy Fong, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2023 Unlike traffic jam assist features already available throughout the US on a number of luxury models today, including Mercedes-Benz cars, the Drive Pilot system allows the driver to entirely disengage from the act of driving. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, 27 Jan. 2023 According to the announcement, affected vehicles may not properly engage or disengage the parking brake which in turn could lead to the vehicle rolling away. Jack Fitzgerald, Car and Driver, 1 Sep. 2022 Even the all-wheel-drive dual-motor model now has more of a rear bias, Polestar says, and the front motor can disengage under certain circumstances. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, 24 Jan. 2023 Traction is improved, which drops the 0-60 mph time to 4.3 seconds, and the front motor can now disengage when cruising for better range efficiency. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 24 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disengage.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


French désengager, from Middle French, from des- dis- + engager to engage

First Known Use

1611, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of disengage was in 1611

Dictionary Entries Near disengage

Cite this Entry

“Disengage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disengage. Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


dis·​en·​gage ˌdis-ᵊn-ˈgāj How to pronounce disengage (audio)
: to free or release from an engagement, entanglement, or burden
disengage an automobile clutch
disengagement noun

More from Merriam-Webster on disengage

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