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

Vine tells a wildly amusing story of Johnson appearing at a dinner he was scheduled to speak at — late, disheveled, and completely unprepared — and then delivering a speech that bore no relation to the event but that the audience adored. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Boris Johnson, the Brexit Illusionist," 28 June 2019 An endless stream of disheveled and disoriented women and children poured out of the backs of trucks at al-Hol refugee camp in Hasakeh province in northeastern Syria. National Geographic, "A humanitarian crisis emerges as ISIS falls in northern Syria," 27 Mar. 2019 The first panel of the cartoon showed a disheveled man near a lamppost. Quanta Magazine, "A Drunkard’s Walk in Manhattan," 18 Aug. 2016 The eaglets, who are big but a bit disheveled, without a mature bird’s pomp and plumage, will get a few inches of air, then a foot, then 2 feet, before falling back to the nest. Nara Schoenberg,, "A tale of lost love, mistaken identity, courageous single parenting — and bald eagles," 18 June 2019 The woman’s clothing was disheveled, and the officer saw that the left side of her forehead was bleeding and both her eyes and her jaw were bruised, the affidavit said. Michelle L. Quinn, Post-Tribune, "Police: Boyfriend charged in Hammond domestic incident," 11 June 2019 The father’s clothing was disheveled, torn and dirty., "Suspect assaults father, brother: Cleveland Heights police blotter," 7 June 2019 In front of the family stood a disheveled man in a woman’s dress and makeup, holding a gun and muttering about going out in a hail of gunfire rather than being captured by the police. Laurel Weibezahn,, "Cross-dressing robbers sentenced for stick-ups," 7 June 2019 Out front, there was a cart selling bridal bouquets, sachets of confetti, and congratulatory floral arrangements for last-minute traditionalists, a coffee vendor, a line of taxis, and a disheveled man emphatically swearing at a lamp post. Alessandra Codinha, Vogue, "Learning to Commit, One Step At A Time," 6 Feb. 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

12 Jul 2019

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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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