di·​shev·​eled | \ di-ˈshev-əld How to pronounce disheveled (audio) \
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 Suspicious, Marketplace Drive: After receiving a call about a disheveled man wearing shorts standing in front of the Walmart store Jan. 4, a rescue squad was called to check on him. Joan Rusek, cleveland, "Horses attempt a break out on the freeway, one succeeds: Bainbridge Township police blotter," 7 Jan. 2020 Cosman, in his early 60s, was a mercurial, disheveled man with thick glasses and a scruffy beard who worshiped the San Francisco Giants. Los Angeles Times, "He was ‘goofy and innocent and often annoying,’ but he inspired a tough town to celebrate eccentricities," 24 Sep. 2019 There’s a film noir quality about these artists, simple, disheveled scenes with steam hissing out of them. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Edith Halpert and American Modernism," 14 Dec. 2019 One witness who saw her at a truck stop in Conley, Georgia said Sherry called the man B.J. All three of the witnesses stated that Sherry was noticeably upset, disheveled and appeared dazed. Carol Robinson |, al, "Gone without a trace? Misery, mystery linger in these Alabama missing child cases," 12 Nov. 2019 Scaramucci’s eyelids are heavy, his hair combed back but disheveled. Ryan Kost,, "How to make a celebrity say (almost) anything," 16 Oct. 2019 And the news itself, today, often manifests as feeds and flows and streams and storms: a hectic flurry of information that arrives at people’s doorsteps disheveled and disorderly. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Desperately Seeking C.J.," 25 Sep. 2019 After the other two girls went home, Pearcy took Boggio to a beachfront bar, where she was last seen, barefoot and disheveled, around midnight. Pamela Colloff, ProPublica, "He’s a Liar, a Con Artist and a Snitch. His Testimony Could Soon Send a Man to His Death.," 4 Dec. 2019 By the time the Lakers landed in Shanghai, their plans had been completely disheveled. Los Angeles Times, "Lakers arrive in Shanghai without much fanfare in wake of NBA-China dispute," 8 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for disheveled

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The first known use of disheveled was in 1583

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disheveled.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for disheveled


How to pronounce disheveled (audio)

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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