dis·​in·​for·​ma·​tion | \ (ˌ)dis-ˌin-fər-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce disinformation (audio) \

Definition of disinformation

: false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth

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In 1939, a writer describing Nazi intelligence activities noted, "The mood of national suspicion prevalent during the last decade ... is well illustrated by General Krivitsky's account of the German 'Disinformation Service,' engaged in manufacturing fake military plans for the express purpose of having them stolen by foreign governments." Although the Nazis were accused of using disinformation back in the 1930s, the noun and the practice are most often associated with the Soviet KGB. Many people think "disinformation" is a literal translation of the Russian "dezinformatsiya," which means "misinformation," a term the KGB allegedly used in the 1950s to name a department created to dispense propaganda.

Examples of disinformation in a Sentence

The government used disinformation to gain support for the policy.
Recent Examples on the Web For example, disinformation is still a relatively untapped area for the cybersecurity industry. Tom Okman, Forbes, 16 June 2022 Mary watched the disinformation ensnare her family. Regine Cabato, Washington Post, 16 June 2022 Tech companies have fought disinformation reporting requirements in recent months as part of their opposition to the bloc’s landmark Digital Services Act. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 14 June 2022 The station, which its critics accuse of ‘pushing right-wing and sometimes racist disinformation,’ has been a darling of the Latino right for years. Fox News, 14 June 2022 The preliminaries showed that Trump's efforts to spread disinformation and seed false claims of fraud started months before the election, in the spring of 2020. Norman Eisen, CNN, 14 June 2022 In April, Brown University president Christina H. Paxson pledged to update the university’s ethics policies to ban funding from organizations engaging in science disinformation. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 13 June 2022 And the inventions of the Lost Cause bear a remarkable parallel to the campaigns of disinformation that have buttressed the belief of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists and those who support them (cough cough, Fox News). Carolina A. Mirandacolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 11 June 2022 If thousands of people are turning out for a rally based on disinformation. San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of disinformation

1939, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of disinformation was in 1939

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Last Updated

18 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Disinformation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinformation. Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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