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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 dissembling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The captain, dissembling not his satisfaction, averred he could wear the gold chain of stewardship as well as another man.

    Captain Ravenshaw Robert Neilson Stephens
  • It's your cool, dissembling, smiling hypocrite, of whom you should beware.

  • "Ah," Mr. Stewart made answer, dissembling what pique he might have felt, and putting real interest into his words.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • Mr. Parris, among his other accomplishments, had the power of dissembling.

    The Witch of Salem John R. Musick
  • If she were dissembling he would dissemble, too, but to a better end.

    The Tyranny of Weakness Charles Neville Buck
  • "I know you never were any use at dissembling," he answered.

    To Love Margaret Peterson
  • I found that I had gained nothing by this sort of service; nor even by dissembling a general disposition to serve him.

  • dissembling her displeasure, she praised the hammer-cloth, and especially the fringe.

British Dictionary definitions for dissembling


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 dissembling



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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