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

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 Facebook has a genocide problem Last month, The New York Times reported that members of the Myanmar military organized a systematic disinformation campaign to demonize the country's Muslim Rohingya minority group. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Sorry Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook isn’t a “positive force”," 21 Nov. 2018 Researchers have identified veterans as a particular target of disinformation campaigns. Dustin Volz, WSJ, "Army Veteran Wages War on Social-Media Disinformation," 17 Oct. 2018 Facebook has taken down more than 600 phony pages, groups and accounts that were part of two separate disinformation campaigns. Tony Romm, The Seattle Times, "Russia and Iran created 652 Facebook pages, groups and accounts to mislead users around the world, company says," 21 Aug. 2018 There was so much deception in regard to this policy, the explanations emerging from the White House began to seeing like Wheel of Fortune but for disinformation. Lauren Duca, Teen Vogue, "Donald Trump Is Still Gaslighting America. I Really Care. Do u?," 23 June 2018 Then came the Trump campaign, Brexit, a resurgence of far-right extremism across Europe and the United States, and the widespread inability to distinguish information from disinformation. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Mark Zuckerberg’s Apology Tour," 23 Mar. 2018 The push continues the company’s efforts to exert control in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which triggered a series of scandals connected to propaganda, disinformation, and harassment on social media platforms. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Twitter’s Huge Purge of Fake Accounts Could Lead to Decline in User Numbers," 7 July 2018 The Kremlin continues to spread disinformation, and its political opponents still occasionally turn up poisoned or dead. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Putin’s Success Masks Russian Weakness," 4 June 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

9 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for disinformation

The first known use of disinformation was in 1939

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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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