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[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.
Origin of dishevel
First recorded in 1590-1600; back formation from disheveled
Related forms
dishevelment, noun


[dih-shev-uh ld] /dɪˈʃɛv əld/
hanging loosely or in disorder; unkempt:
disheveled hair.
untidy; disarranged:
a disheveled appearance.
Also, especially British, dishevelled.
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dishevelled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Wamibo darted out a dishevelled head, and looked at him wildly.

  • He is hatless and unwashed and dishevelled, standing in the Blackfriars Road.

    Despair's Last Journey David Christie Murray
  • Her appearance is that of a tall, gaunt hag, with dishevelled hair.

    Russian Fairy Tales W. R. S. Ralston
  • Then French came in, and behind him a lady in black, dishevelled, bathed in tears.

    Marriage la mode Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • Then his own eyes grew merry, as he glanced at the tearful, dishevelled Theodora.

    Teddy: Her Book Anna Chapin Ray
  • He thought of her heavy hair, dishevelled, glimmering in her eyes.

    Lorraine Robert W. Chambers
  • He stood there, pale and dishevelled, with eyes that were wild and bordered with red.

    The Tinted Venus F. Anstey
  • His hair was dishevelled in points; his mouth was open in amazement.

    The Fifth Queen Crowned

    Ford Madox Ford
  • George, looking big and dishevelled, was pacing up and down the dining-room.

    A Room With A View E. M. Forster
British Dictionary definitions for dishevelled


(esp of hair) hanging loosely
(of general appearance) unkempt; untidy
Word Origin
C15 dischevelee, from Old French deschevelé, from des-dis-1 + chevel hair, from Latin capillus


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 dishevelled

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 dishevelled



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.



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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