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

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 The tech giant removed 70 million fake or suspicious accounts in May and June in an effort to clean up the microblogging service and combat disinformation. Fox News, "Twitter brings in anti-Trump academics to combat intolerance," 2 Oct. 2018 Among the disinformation spreading has been rumors of child kidnappings that reportedly inspired a series of mob lynchings, including the murder of five men in July 2018, the Hindustan Times reported. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "WhatsApp Addresses the Deadly Fake News Problem in India," 25 Sep. 2018 Our project’s goal is to cut through the noise and disinformation surrounding today’s most important issues in a way that’s clear and accessible to everyday Americans. Marisa Guthrie, The Hollywood Reporter, "How Sacha Baron Cohen Duped Ted Koppel for His Showtime Show," 12 July 2018 As part of its efforts to fight disinformation, the company announced Wednesday that locked accounts will soon stop being counted as followers. Ethan Millman, latimes.com, "Twitter accounts are about to lose a bunch of followers," 11 July 2018 Previously, the barriers to entry to automating abuse and disinformation were incredibly low. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: Twitter's fake account purge can help turn the tide against influence campaigns," 9 July 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

18 Mar 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

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grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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