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[dis-ey-buh l] /dɪsˈeɪ bəl/
verb (used with object), disabled, disabling.
to make unable or unfit; weaken or destroy the capability of; incapacitate: The detective successfully disabled the bomb.
He was disabled by the accident.
to make legally incapable; disqualify.
Origin of disable
First recorded in 1475-85; dis-1 + able
Related forms
disablement, noun
disabler, noun
1. enfeeble, paralyze. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for disable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I must disable this machinery and give the tug a chance to escape.

    The Cruise of the Dry Dock T. S. Stribling
  • And he repeats the Arabic proverb in broken Arabic, “A drop of pus will disable a camel.”

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • Now he had to make another when her threat was not to kill him but to disable the ship.

    Pariah Planet Murray Leinster
  • But how do you disable a smooth-surfaced turtle-backed machine?

    The Status Civilization Robert Sheckley
  • Running over a floating log might disable our propeller, and we should be helpless then.

    Up the River Oliver Optic
British Dictionary definitions for disable


verb (transitive)
to make ineffective, unfit, or incapable, as by crippling
to make or pronounce legally incapable
to switch off (an electronic device)
Derived Forms
disablement, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for disable

mid-15c., from dis- "do the opposite of" + ablen (v.) "to make fit" (see able). Related: Disabled; disabling. Earlier in the same sense was unable (v.) "make unfit, render unsuitable" (c.1400).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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