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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Did You Know?

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

But disinformation spread by foreign governments is not the only issue stoking worries. Deanna Paul, The Seattle Times, "Analysis: How fighting political disinformation could collide with the First Amendment," 30 Mar. 2019 How is post-truth different from simple misinformation or disinformation? Alex Kingsbury, BostonGlobe.com, "‘Post-truth,’ the ultimate form of cynicism," 18 May 2018 In addition, the ongoing reports about the widespread dissemination of misinformation and disinformation, particularly on social media, have only increased the demand for our services. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "The News Literacy Project takes on ‘fake’ news — and business is better than ever," 27 Mar. 2018 James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, said Mueller’s investigation reaffirms Russia’s involvement in a disinformation campaign and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the lead-up to the 2016 election. Ann E. Marimow, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s allies celebrate ‘no collusion’ findings, while Democrats call for release of full report," 24 Mar. 2019 Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota senator, has tried to carve out tech reform as a niche issue, although with more of a focus on disinformation campaigns than on their corporate power. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Elizabeth Warren Calls to Break Up Amazon, Facebook, and Google," 8 Mar. 2019 It’s hard to sort out exactly what is going on, as information and disinformation is flowing freely by both sides, with social media users often inadvertently sharing wrong information. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Aircraft Shot Down As Crisis Between India and Pakistan Escalates," 27 Feb. 2019 Rosbalt is thought to be close to Russian security services that have previously used it as a conduit for information as well as disinformation. Ann M. Simmons, WSJ, "American Charged in Russia Tried to Steal $10,000 as a Marine in Iraq," 4 Jan. 2019 Twitter is partnering with the National Association of Secretaries of State and National Association of State Election Directors; both parties can send disinformation reports to Twitter for review. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Facebook and Twitter’s midterm task: fighting off online efforts to suppress the vote," 3 Nov. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of disinformation

1939, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for disinformation

Last Updated

13 May 2019

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Time Traveler for disinformation

The first known use of disinformation was in 1939

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More Definitions for disinformation



English Language Learners Definition of disinformation

: false information that is given to people in order to make them believe something or to hide the truth

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More from Merriam-Webster on disinformation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with disinformation

Nglish: Translation of disinformation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about disinformation

Comments on disinformation

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


one that collects or salvages junk

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