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 An assault would likely begin with a flurry of cyberattacks, disinformation and provocations designed to destabilize the country and manufacture a pretext for invasion, Ukrainian current and former officials said. James Marson, WSJ, 20 Jan. 2022 This is the exact same error platforms often make in allowing disinformation and abhorrent content to flourish online. Elena Maris, Wired, 12 Jan. 2022 The US Treasury announced new sanctions against six Nicaraguan officials over accusations of state acts of violence, disinformation and targeting of independent media. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, 10 Jan. 2022 Given the prevalence of disinformation and propaganda on social media and cable news, electoral mistrust among conservatives, and thus the prospect of democracy derailed by its defenders, is not a surprising development. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, 9 Jan. 2022 Instead of providing a foundation for national unity, Jan. 6 became a launchpad for disinformation and new state laws to restrict access to the ballot box. Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 6 Jan. 2022 The European Union is redoubling its determination to avoid the same pitfalls, even if that means reining in freedom of speech by getting ahead of Washington with legal curbs on the use of social media as a propagator of disinformation and hate. Washington Post, 5 Jan. 2022 Extremists and foreign actors used the applications that define Web2, namely social media and messaging apps, to spread misinformation, disinformation and help sow unprecedented political polarization. Samara Lynn, ABC News, 1 Jan. 2022 The efforts are poised to fuel disinformation and anger about the 2020 results for years to come. Nicholas Riccardi, ajc, 30 Dec. 2021

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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The first known use of disinformation was in 1939

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Last Updated

25 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Disinformation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinformation. Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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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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