Synonym Chooser

How is the word disable distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of disable are cripple, debilitate, enfeeble, sap, undermine, and weaken. While all these words mean "to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor," disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability.

disabled by an injury sustained at work

When might cripple be a better fit than disable?

While the synonyms cripple and disable are close in meaning, cripple implies causing a serious loss of functioning power through damaging or removing an essential part or element.

crippled by arthritis

When is debilitate a more appropriate choice than disable?

The meanings of debilitate and disable largely overlap; however, debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality.

the debilitating effects of surgery

When could enfeeble be used to replace disable?

Although the words enfeeble and disable have much in common, enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness.

enfeebled by starvation

How are the words undermine and sap related as synonyms of disable?

Both undermine and sap suggest a weakening by something working surreptitiously and insidiously.

a poor diet undermines your health
drugs had sapped his ability to think

When is it sensible to use weaken instead of disable?

While in some cases nearly identical to disable, weaken may imply loss of physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power.

a disease that weakens the body's defenses

Thesaurus Entries Near disable

Cite this Entry

“Disable.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

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