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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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for dishevelment
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The dislocation is its entrance, the dishevelment its strength.

    Incredible Adventures Algernon Blackwood
  • She saw that she was somewhat pale and that she had an indefinable air of dishevelment.

    Dope Sax Rohmer
  • It is impossible to believe that there is no remedy for its unevenness and dishevelment, or that the remedy is a secret.

    Pax Vobiscum Henry Drummond
  • Don't detain her,' he added, as Alda would have modified her dishevelment by removing the wreath and veil. '

  • But it has an idle abundance and wantonness, a romantic shabbiness and dishevelment.

    Italian Hours Henry James
  • Two hours later Bazarov re-entered his bedroom in a state of dishevelment and despondency, and with his boots soaked with dew.

    Fathers and Sons Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev
  • The Marquis, besides his dishevelment, was looking very lean and pale.

    John Splendid Neil Munro
  • Lofty houses, gay in tawdry colors and picturesque in their dishevelment, looked down on a crowd as varied as any on earth.

    The Great Mogul Louis Tracy
  • Selwyn closed the door and seated himself, apparently not noticing Gerald's dishevelment.

    The Younger Set Robert W. Chambers
British Dictionary definitions for dishevelment


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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Word Origin and History for dishevelment



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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