disinformation

noun
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 Social media and the internet are major factors in what U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned last week was an alarming flow of disinformation about the vaccines. David Bauder, orlandosentinel.com, 21 July 2021 Social media and the internet are major factors in what U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned last week was an alarming flow of disinformation about the vaccines. David Bauder, Star Tribune, 20 July 2021 Social media and the internet are major factors in what U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned last week was an alarming flow of disinformation about the vaccines. David Bauder, ajc, 20 July 2021 But the process of editing these few words was long and complicated, offering lessons on the pitfalls and continued promise of decentralized knowledge in the era of disinformation, with some possible insights about Polish ultranationalism. Asaf Shalev, sun-sentinel.com, 8 June 2021 Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter have responded by ramping up fact-checking efforts, and both have banned accounts managed by former President Donald Trump, which were a massive source of disinformation throughout his presidency. Nicholas Reimann, Forbes, 1 June 2021 Today’s news involves WhatsApp, which has reportedly sued the Indian government in an attempt to block incoming rules designed to trace the originators of disinformation. David Meyer, Fortune, 26 May 2021 Big Tech’s dissemination of disinformation to its undermining of democracy. Nancy Jo Sales, Wired, 18 May 2021 The group has achieved growing fame and respect for generating breakthrough insights and piercing fogs of disinformation, very often put forward by Moscow. Charlie Savage, The New Republic, 10 May 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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Time Traveler for disinformation

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The first known use of disinformation was in 1939

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Dictionary Entries Near disinformation

disinflation

disinformation

disingenuity

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Last Updated

24 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Disinformation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinformation. Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for disinformation

disinformation

noun

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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