[ dis-ey-buhld ]
See synonyms for disabled on Thesaurus.com
  1. physically or mentally impaired, injured, or incapacitated.

  2. not working or operating properly, or at all; incapable or made incapable of functioning:This feature is normally disabled on company computers.They called the Coast Guard to tow the disabled boat to shore.

noun(used with a plural verb)
  1. Usually the disabled . physically or mentally impaired people: Ramps have been installed at the entrances to accommodate the disabled.

Origin of disabled

First recorded in 1625–35; disable + -ed2

usage note For disabled

Disabled 1 is a comprehensive umbrella term to describe people or communities of people who live with functional limitations in carrying out major life activities, such as walking, lifting, seeing, or learning. When should disabled be used to describe someone? First, in many cases, there is no need to mention disability; it is often not relevant to the information being conveyed. In most cases, when disabilities are mentioned, it is preferable to name the person’s specific physical or mental condition, like diabetes or traumatic brain injury. However, when addressing an issue that affects the larger community of people living with such functional limitations in daily activities, for example, when discussing accessibility in the workplace, disabled and disability are the appropriate terms.
Some people prefer person-first constructions like “a person with a disability” to emphasize the whole person, not defined exclusively by living with a disability. Others use identity-first language like “a disabled person” to center the disability as an important aspect of identity and push back on the presupposition that disability is inherently negative, unmentionable, or something to be politely ignored.
Following similar logic, the euphemisms “special,” “challenged,” “differently abled,” and “handicapable” are not recommended. The straightforward, simple, and descriptive term disabled is preferred.

Other words from disabled

  • non·dis·a·bled, noun, adjective
  • sem·i·dis·a·bled, adjective
  • un·dis·a·bled, adjective

Words Nearby disabled

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use disabled in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for disabled


/ (dɪˈseɪbəld) /

    • lacking one or more physical powers, such as the ability to walk or to coordinate one's movements, as from the effects of a disease or accident, or through mental impairment

    • (as collective noun; preceded by the): the disabled

usage For disabled

Nowadays it is better to refer to people with physical disabilities of various kinds by describing the specific difficulty in question rather than talking about the disabled as a group, which is considered somewhat offensive. Some people also object to the word disabled to refer to facilities for people with disabilites, and prefer the word accessible

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