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

Keep scrolling for more

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 His outspokenness on extremism caught the eye of the Network Contagion Research Institute, which maps the online spread of disinformation and coded language used by extremist groups, including antifa, the Proud Boys and more. Washington Post, "What hunting Bigfoot taught a Republican congressman about politics," 26 Nov. 2020 Be mindful that widespread inoculation is key to success and be wary of disinformation about safety and efficacy. Editorial Board Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Thanksgiving 2020: Staying mindful while being grateful," 25 Nov. 2020 Nigeria dismissed an investigative report by CNN alleging that its security forces killed unarmed protesters last month in the country’s largest city of Lagos, accusing the news organization of disinformation. William Clowes, Bloomberg.com, "Nigeria Denies CNN Report Saying Army Killed Protesters," 19 Nov. 2020 Democrats tried to uproot and slow the spread of disinformation on social networks, while Republicans alleged censorship of conservative voices and threatened to break up the largest firms. Dan Patterson, CBS News, "Here's how Biden will work with Big Tech," 11 Nov. 2020 Rapidly spreading online posts have become a key part of this ecosystem, says Evelyn Pérez-Verdía, a Democratic strategist in South Florida who's been sounding alarm bells about the spread of disinformation for months. Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, "How social media posts in Spanish are sowing doubt over the election," 7 Nov. 2020 Given many ballots will be mailed in this year, sites that post about winners on election night could be disinformation, Rinehart said. Ashley Nerbovig, Detroit Free Press, "Heads up, Michigan. Here's what disinformation experts are watching for on Election Day," 2 Nov. 2020 And as other platforms have grappled with a tidal wave of disinformation in 2020, Wikipedia’s strict notability rules are a cause for celebration among some of its editors. Benjamin Wofford, Wired, "The Senate Race That Could be Pivotal for America—and Wikipedia," 2 Nov. 2020 No Silicon Valley sleuth had dedicated his progressive services to prove the Hunter laptop is a fiction, a tool of Russian disinformation. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Vote No on 1984," 2 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of disinformation

1939, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about disinformation

Time Traveler for disinformation

Time Traveler

The first known use of disinformation was in 1939

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about disinformation

Statistics for disinformation

Last Updated

2 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disinformation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinformation. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for disinformation


How to pronounce disinformation (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!