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 don't have anything to hide: dissemble is a synonym of disguise, cloak, and mask. Disguise implies a change in appearance or behavior that misleads by presenting a different apparent identity ("The prince disguised himself as a peasant"). Cloak suggests a means of hiding a movement or an intention ("The military operation was cloaked in secrecy"). Mask suggests some often obvious means of hiding or disguising something ("The customer smiled to mask her discontent"). Dissemble (from Latin dissimulare, meaning "to disguise or conceal") stresses the intent to deceive, especially about one's own thoughts or feelings, and often implies that the deception is something that would warrant censure if discovered.

Example Sentences

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 Inside visitors of all ages collaborate on elaborate, sprawling LEGO creations which are assembled, then later dissembled to start anew, just as any devoted LEGO fan does at home. Meg Campbell, BostonGlobe.com, 11 May 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 The doctors attending him are public servants and shouldn’t dissemble or strategize when answering questions that citizens are entitled to ask. Star Tribune, 7 Oct. 2020 The Ebay team allegedly continued to dissemble, both to law enforcement and to Ebay’s own lawyers, who by August 26 had begun to conduct their own interviews about the matter. Brian Barrett, Wired, 15 June 2020 And when Denise becomes Georges’ eager collaborator and chief financier, Haenel’s flinty-eyed intelligence becomes a vital counterpoint to Dujardin’s dissembling idiocy. Los Angeles Times, 30 Apr. 2020 Everything so far has been dissembling, denial, pointing the finger somewhere else. Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2019 See More

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 31 May. 2023.

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

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