dis·​in·​for·​ma·​tion | \ (ˌ)dis-ˌin-fər-ˈmā-shən \

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

Russia’s hybrid warfare tactics against the West, including election meddling and online disinformation campaigns, have drawn the most attention from lawmakers and the U.S. government. Thomas Grove, WSJ, "The New Iron Curtain: Russian Missile Defense Challenges U.S. Air Power," 23 Jan. 2019 Several officials said disinformation on social media had emerged as their chief concern. Dustin Volz, WSJ, "No Significant Foreign Interference Seen on Midterm Vote," 7 Nov. 2018 The first was that the DOJ made clear that the President was not and is not a target of the Russia investigation despite the Democrats' constant disinformation on that point. Fox News, "Morgan Freeman's team accuses CNN of defamation," 31 May 2018 Thus the Kremlin has ripe targets for disinformation on alt-right and white-supremacist websites that support Trump, along with some far-left sites. Trudy Rubin, Philly.com, "Putin's info war against America amplified by Trump | Trudy Rubin," 30 May 2018 The goal is to hamstring Internet trolls or foreign governments from spreading disinformation on Twitter like they are suspected of doing during the 2016 presidential campaign. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "Twitter Has a New Plan to Keep Imposters from Sowing Confusion During the Midterm Elections," 23 May 2018 The group says the cutouts represents the hundreds of millions of fake accounts still spreading disinformation on Facebook. Andrea Diaz, CNN, "A sea of Mark Zuckerberg cutouts have taken over the Capitol lawn," 10 Apr. 2018 Stamos would be the first high-ranking employee to leave Facebook since controversy erupted over disinformation on its site. BostonGlobe.com, "Facebook security chief quits amid conflicts with executives," 19 Mar. 2018 The easy thing to do would be to dismiss the film, the subjects, and their claims; to spread disinformation about them as lazy, disgruntled, troublemaking officers. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Crime + Punishment," 22 Aug. 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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Last Updated

4 Feb 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

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