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[dih-shev-uh ld] /dɪˈʃɛv əld/
hanging loosely or in disorder; unkempt:
disheveled hair.
untidy; disarranged:
a disheveled appearance.
Also, especially British, dishevelled.
Origin of disheveled
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English discheveled < Old French deschevele, past participle of descheveler to dishevel the hair, equivalent to des- dis-1 + -cheveler, derivative of chevel a hair < Latin capillus
Related forms
undisheveled, adjective
2. rumpled, messy, slovenly, sloppy.


[dih-shev-uh l] /dɪˈʃɛv əl/
verb (used with object), disheveled, disheveling or (especially British) dishevelled, dishevelling.
to let down, as hair, or wear or let hang in loose disorder, as clothing.
to cause untidiness and disarray in:
The wind disheveled the papers on the desk.
First recorded in 1590-1600; back formation from disheveled
Related forms
dishevelment, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for disheveled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His all-night ride from Cherbourg had left him disheveled, unshaven and hungry.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • He was disheveled, surprised and angry, but Garlock gave him no chance to speak.

    The Galaxy Primes Edward Elmer Smith
  • With his fingers he gingerly parted his wet, disheveled hair.

    The White Mice Richard Harding Davis
  • The other advanced a step, looking a trifle pale and disheveled.

    Lodusky Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • He was disheveled, but his manner was as imperturbable as ever.

    Tarrano the Conqueror Raymond King Cummings
British Dictionary definitions for disheveled


verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
to disarrange (the hair or clothes) of (someone)
Derived Forms
dishevelment, noun
Word Origin
C15: back formation from dishevelled
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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Contemporary definitions for disheveled

messed up or disarrayed, esp. the hair; untidy

Word Origin

Old French descheveler 'to disarrange the hair'

Usage Note

also dishevelled's 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin and History for disheveled

also dishevelled, early 15c., "without dressed hair," parallel form of dishevel (adj.); see dishevel. General sense of "with disordered dress" is from c.1600.



originally an adjective, "bare-headed," late 14c., variant (with muted final -e) of dishevely, from Old French deschevele "bare-headed, with shaven head," past participle adjective from descheveler "to disarrange the hair," from des- "apart" (see dis-) + chevel "hair," from Latin capillus "hair" (see capillary). Of the hair, "dissheveled," mid-15c. OED says use as a verb is chiefly a back-formation from disheveled.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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