variants: or dishevelled

Definition of disheveled 

: marked by disorder or disarray disheveled hair

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Did You Know?

It’s common to wake up after a long night’s sleep with your hair disheveled - which is appropriate, considering the origins of the word disheveled. First appearing in English in the late 16th century, disheveled derived from Middle English discheveled, meaning "bareheaded" or "with disordered hair." It is a partial translation of the Anglo-French word deschevelé, formed by combining the prefix des- (dis-) with chevoil, the word for hair. Since the early 17th century, however, disheveled has been used for things other than hair, including such disparate items as grammar and reputations, that are far from tidy.

Examples of disheveled in a Sentence

His wrinkled suit gave him a disheveled appearance. They looked dirty and disheveled.

Recent Examples on the Web

Seated in front of Ormsby were 71 disheveled immigrants caught illegally crossing the Rio Grande. Michael E. Miller,, "‘They just took them?’ Frantic parents separated from their kids fill courts on the border," 10 June 2018 Broken and disheveled, Serena sees June creeping out of the house with the baby and doesn't stop the handmaid. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2 finale recap: The fight finally begins," 11 July 2018 In the pic, Couco’s husband, Karl stares at the camera with a Cheshire catlike smile on his face while Couco looks grim and disheveled. Julius Young, Fox News, "'Big Bang' star Kaley Couco undergoes shoulder surgery days after marrying Karl Cook," 6 July 2018 The man did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but was agitated and disheveled. Jeff Piorkowski/special To,, "Hit-and-run driver iunjures man, 75: Solon police blotter," 11 Jan. 2018 Joe and the elegantly disheveled Mary were too fascinating to resist. Mary Horlock, Longreads, "The Camouflage Artist: Two Worlds Wars, Two Loves, and One Great Deception," 21 June 2018 Anthony Garcia appeared disheveled, with a heavy beard and unkempt hair, when he was wheeled into a Douglas County courtroom in a wheelchair. Washington Post, "Attorneys seek to spare ex-doctor from death for 4 slayings," 13 June 2018 An infamous mug shot of a disheveled Nolte in a Hawaiian shirt emerged from that incident. Mike Barnes, Billboard, "Paul Bloch, Famed Publicist Adept at Putting Out Fires in Hollywood, Dies at 78," 26 May 2018 Instead, Thomas insisted he’s been ambushed by paparazzi who have photographed him as a disheveled recluse. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Meghan Markle's father not attending royal wedding after heart attack, staged paparazzi photos, says report," 14 May 2018

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

1583, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for disheveled

Middle English discheveled bareheaded, with disordered hair, partial translation of Anglo-French deschevelé, from des- dis- + chevoil hair, from Latin capillus

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Statistics for disheveled

Last Updated

23 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for disheveled

The first known use of disheveled was in 1583

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More Definitions for disheveled



English Language Learners Definition of disheveled

: not neat or tidy


variants: or dishevelled \di-ˈshe-vəld \

Kids Definition of disheveled

: messy sense 1 disheveled hair

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Comments on disheveled

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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