verb (used with object), dis·en·gaged, dis·en·gag·ing.

to release from attachment or connection; loosen; unfasten: to disengage a clutch.
to free (oneself) from an engagement, pledge, obligation, etc.: He accepted the invitation, but was later forced to disengage himself.
Military. to break off action with (an enemy).

verb (used without object), dis·en·gaged, dis·en·gag·ing.

to become disengaged; free oneself.

Origin of disengage

1605–15; < Middle French desengager, equivalent to des- dis-1 + engager to engage
Related formsdis·en·gag·ed·ness [dis-en-gey-jid-nis, -geyjd-] /ˌdɪs ɛnˈgeɪ dʒɪd nɪs, -ˈgeɪdʒd-/, nounself-dis·en·gag·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for disengage

Contemporary Examples of disengage

Historical Examples of disengage

  • When you make a pass, Sir, you must first disengage, and your body must be well turned.

  • As he said this he gently strove to disengage himself from her hold.

    Gomez Arias

    Joaqun Telesforo de Trueba y Coso

  • We must disengage ourselves from the ideas which the customary use of words has implanted in us.

  • Gently she sought to disengage her hand, the trouble in her face increasing.

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

  • This time he resolved to go in on the fifth disengage, and in on that he went with the same ease.


    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for disengage



to release or become released from a connection, obligation, etcpress the clutch to disengage the gears
military to withdraw (forces) from close action
fencing to move (one's blade) from one side of an opponent's blade to another in a circular motion to bring the blade into an open line of attack
Derived Formsdisengaged, adjective
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

Word Origin and History for disengage

c.1600 in figurative sense; 1660s in literal sense of "detach," from dis- "do the opposite of" + engage (q.v.). Related: Disengaged; disengaging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper