dis·​sem·​ble di-ˈsem-bəl How to pronounce dissemble (audio)
dissembled; dissembling di-ˈsem-b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce dissemble (audio)

transitive verb

: to hide under a false appearance
dissembling the facts
: to put on the appearance of : simulate
She lay down and dissembled sleep.

intransitive verb

: to put on a false appearance : conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretense
He had dissembled about the risks involved.
dissembler noun

Did you know?

We have nothing to hide: dissemble (from the Latin verb dissimulāre, meaning “to disguise the identity of”) stresses the intent to deceive others, especially about facts, feelings, or intentions. Most often found in formal or literary speech and writing, dissemble also implies that the facts, feelings, or intentions someone is attempting to conceal could land that person in hot water if discovered, as when a politician dissembles at a press conference when faced with questions about a recent scandal. Typical use notwithstanding, it’s perfectly fine to bust out dissemble in less formal contexts and conversations. Just be careful not to confuse dissemble with disassemble, which means “to take apart.”

Examples of dissemble in a Sentence

he dissembled happiness at the news that his old girlfriend was getting married—to someone else children learn to dissemble at a surprisingly early age
Recent Examples on the Web According to Rebecca, Jonathan once spent 30 minutes dissembling a lamp in a stranger’s yard to free a bird trapped inside. Sydney Bishop, CNN, 29 June 2024 The defense of Putin’s regime has been offered by people operating as literary critics, ever disassembling and dissembling. Timothy Snyder, Foreign Affairs, 6 Sep. 2022 That same week, Altman made headlines at a Senate hearing by asking to be regulated — wowing senators who were more accustomed to tech CEOs dissembling or responding evasively to questions. Brian Fung, CNN, 14 Feb. 2024 That year, with 23,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam, the administration was still dissembling about the American role in the war. Trip Gabriel, New York Times, 2 Feb. 2024 As are Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, always knowing the precise right play: who’s dissembling, where’s the weak spot. Laura Kipnis, WIRED, 5 Dec. 2023 Hearts dissemble, jealousies can spring up out of nowhere and erotic desire leads everyone astray. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2023 This facility will soon mandate that all visitors be vaccinated, but my relative plans to dissemble in order to evade the requirement. New York Times, 3 Aug. 2021 That drew a memorable riposte from Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, who slyly suggested that the former vice president, with his long Senate experience, was no naif about Netanyahu’s ability to dissemble. Noga Tarnopolsky, Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov. 2020

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

Word History


Middle English dissymbulen, dissymblen, probably reshaping of dissimulen in same sense (after resemblen "to resemble," semblance semblance, and like forms), borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French dissimuler, dissumuler "to hide under a false appearance," borrowed from Latin dissimulāre — more at dissimulate

First Known Use

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

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


Dictionary Entries Near dissemble

Cite this Entry

“Dissemble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissemble. Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


dis·​sem·​ble dis-ˈem-bəl How to pronounce dissemble (audio)
dissembled; dissembling -b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce dissemble (audio)
: to hide one's true feelings : put on a false appearance
dissembler noun

More from Merriam-Webster on dissemble

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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