dis·​ori·​ent | \ (ˌ)dis-ˈȯr-ē-ˌent How to pronounce disorient (audio) \
disoriented; disorienting; disorients

Definition of disorient

transitive verb

1a : to cause to lose bearings : displace from normal position or relationship
b : to cause to lose the sense of time, place, or identity

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Examples of disorient in a Sentence

Thick fog can disorient even an experienced hiker. troops disoriented by the sudden change in battle plans
Recent Examples on the Web Her book was dense and disorienting, coy and lyrical, bearing little resemblance to the bland Asian-American best-sellers of previous decades. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "The Asian-American Canon Breakers," 30 Dec. 2019 The worker slumped against a wall, disoriented, a sensation of warmth rippling through him before the pain hit. Washington Post, "Denied asylum, migrants return to place they fear most: home," 29 Dec. 2019 The Cars created a world that felt futuristic and disorienting, with concise arrangements, hiccupy vocals, herky-jerk rhythms and spasms of noise. Greg Kot, chicagotribune.com, "Ric Ocasek in the recording studio: Perfect start followed by 40 years of cutting-edge pop-rock," 16 Sep. 2019 Once a wanderer has crossed the border, though, the foreign surroundings may seem frightening and disorienting — or comfortingly familiar. BostonGlobe.com, "“We were very surprised,” said her son, Brian Fish. “I thought she would head north. We didn’t think of Mexico at all.”," 3 Nov. 2019 According to Howes, the unfamiliarity of traveling can feel mentally disorienting for some people. Anna Borges, SELF, "9 Super Helpful Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health While Traveling," 25 Oct. 2019 The ornithology lab said that artificial light in such buildings distracts and disorients the birds. Ashley Boucher, PEOPLE.com, "Hundreds of Migrating Birds Crash Into NASCAR Hall of Fame with 97 of Them Dying," 16 Oct. 2019 This was considerably less disorienting in eco mode, though, which could probably be used to provide a gentle introduction to pedal assist for people accustomed to motorless bikes. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Pedaling with extra power: A look at Trek’s new electric bike," 23 Sep. 2019 As early as the 1910s, researchers observed the dead bodies of birds that, disoriented by and attracted to the lights shining at night, had flown smack into smokestacks, lighthouses, tall buildings, and other structures. BostonGlobe.com, "In the meantime, I still relish my chances to take that college girlfriend, who is now my wife, and our two daughters out to the country and show them the lightshow and the galaxy that they are missing in the city.," 21 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disorient.' 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 disorient

1655, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for disorient

French désorienter, from dés- dis- + orienter to orient

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Time Traveler for disorient

Time Traveler

The first known use of disorient was in 1655

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Statistics for disorient

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disorient.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disorient. Accessed 27 January 2020.

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More Definitions for disorient


How to pronounce disorient (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of disorient

: to make (someone) lost or confused


transitive verb
dis·​ori·​ent | \ (ˈ)dis-ˈōr-ē-ˌent, -ˈȯr- How to pronounce disorient (audio) \

Medical Definition of disorient

: to produce a state of disorientation in : disorientate the next day the patient was disoriented but not comatoseJournal of the American Medical Association

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More from Merriam-Webster on disorient

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for disorient

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with disorient

Spanish Central: Translation of disorient

Nglish: Translation of disorient for Spanish Speakers

Comments on disorient

What made you want to look up disorient? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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