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[dih-sem-buh l] /dɪˈsɛm bəl/
verb (used with object), dissembled, dissembling.
to give a false or misleading appearance to; conceal the truth or real nature of:
to dissemble one's incompetence in business.
to put on the appearance of; feign:
to dissemble innocence.
Obsolete. to let pass unnoticed; ignore.
verb (used without object), dissembled, dissembling.
to conceal one's true motives, thoughts, etc., by some pretense; speak or act hypocritically.
Origin of dissemble
1490-1500; alteration (by association with obsolete semble to resemble) of Middle English dissimulen < Latin dissimulāre. See dis-1, simulate
Related forms
dissembler, noun
dissemblingly, adverb
undissembled, adjective
undissembling, adjective
undissemblingly, adverb
well-dissembled, adjective
Can be confused
disassemble, dissemble.
1. mask, hide, camouflage, dissimulate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for dissemble
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But a sudden sense of shame at being compelled to dissemble before a subordinate had lashed him across the face.

    A Man's Woman Frank Norris
  • It is now I who wear a long face, and she cannot dissemble her joy.

    Samuel Brohl & Company Victor Cherbuliez
  • To dissemble for a month or so would not hurt him, and might even amuse him as a new game.

    Halcyone Elinor Glyn
  • In sooth, señora, till you first taught me to dissemble I was unlessoned in the art.

    Margaret Tudor Annie T. Colcock
  • I needed not dissemble an astonishment, for I was as much amazed to see him there, as if I had not known he was in the House.

  • He would have to dissemble, and he rejoined his party with what he intended for a jaunty air.

    The Tinted Venus F. Anstey
  • He said that he stood ready to pray, toil, dissemble, plot like a fox and fight like a tiger.

British Dictionary definitions for dissemble


to conceal (one's real motives, emotions, etc) by pretence
(transitive) to pretend; simulate
(obsolete) to ignore
Derived Forms
dissemblance, noun
dissembler, noun
dissembling, noun, adjective
dissemblingly, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from earlier dissimulen, from Latin dissimulāre; probably influenced by obsolete semble to resemble
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 dissemble

early 15c. (implied in dissemblable), apparently a variant of Middle English dissimule (influenced by Middle French dessembler or English resemble), late 14c., from Old French dissimuler, from Latin dissimulare (see dissimulation). Related: Dissembled; dissembling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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