1 of 2


dis·​junc·​tive dis-ˈjəŋ(k)-tiv How to pronounce disjunctive (audio)
: relating to, being, or forming a logical disjunction
: expressing an alternative or opposition between the meanings of the words connected
the disjunctive conjunction or
: expressed by mutually exclusive alternatives joined by or
disjunctive pleading
: marked by breaks or disunity
a disjunctive narrative sequence
of a pronoun form : stressed and not attached to the verb as an enclitic or proclitic
disjunctively adverb


2 of 2


: a disjunctive conjunction

Did you know?

Disjunctive comes to us from disjunctus, the past participle of the Latin verb disjungere, meaning "to disjoin," and it is commonly used to describe things marked by breaks or separation, as in "a disjunctive account of events." Some people may be familiar with disjunctive conjunctions-like or, either… or, but, and though-which express an alternative or opposition between the meanings of the words connected. The opposite of such conjunctions are copulative conjunctions, which unite words or phrases-the principal one in English being and. In linguistics, disjunctive may also denote a vowel inserted in the body of a word to aid in pronunciation. For example, the schwa sometimes found in athlete is considered disjunctive.

Examples of disjunctive in a Sentence

Adjective “Or” and “but” are disjunctive conjunctions.
Recent Examples on the Web
In his second year at Cambridge, Gunn fell in love with an American, Mike Kitay, who became his lifelong partner, or rather companion, for, rather to Kitay’s chagrin, the disjunctive Gunn was not cut out for a monogamous relationship. Mark Ford, The New York Review of Books, 25 May 2022 The full conquest of Ukraine would, on the other hand, be rightly seen as a truly disjunctive event. David Faris, The Week, 22 Feb. 2022 Jude, however, doesn’t merge these disjunctive threads into a totalizing whole. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 26 Nov. 2021 Boats filled with men wrapped and huddled against the cold toss on spiky blue water; oars and bayonets radiate in a disjunctive pattern. Karen Wilkin, WSJ, 26 Sep. 2020 Nearly all the clips have been stripped of dialogue, preserving the continuity of Hitchcock's narrative but also turning each conversation into an amusing exercise in disjunctive editing. Justin Chang, chicagotribune.com, 26 Apr. 2018 This time, as the speeches of local authorities proclaim unity and harmony, the editing splinters the action into a series of discrete, disjunctive shots. New York Times, 7 June 2018 In both, Quinn knits together more explicitly disjunctive parts — one arm skinny in Superman blue opposite another, beefy and bare, for instance. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, 6 June 2018
The mobiles, displayed in disjunctive, nonchronological sequences, ring an undivided space, and precise spotlights cast frolicking shadows on white and blue walls. Jason Farago, New York Times, 8 June 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disjunctive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1530, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of disjunctive was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near disjunctive

Cite this Entry

“Disjunctive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disjunctive. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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