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[dih-shev-uh l]
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verb (used with object), di·shev·eled, di·shev·el·ing or (especially British) di·shev·elled, di·shev·el·ling.
  1. to let down, as hair, or wear or let hang in loose disorder, as clothing.
  2. to cause untidiness and disarray in: The wind disheveled the papers on the desk.
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Origin of dishevel

First recorded in 1590–1600; back formation from disheveled
Related formsdi·shev·el·ment, noun


  1. hanging loosely or in disorder; unkempt: disheveled hair.
  2. untidy; disarranged: a disheveled appearance.
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Also especially British, di·shev·elled.

Origin of disheveled

1375–1425; late Middle English discheveled < Old French deschevele, past participle of descheveler to dishevel the hair, equivalent to des- dis-1 + -cheveler, derivative of chevel a hair < Latin capillus
Related formsun·di·shev·eled, adjective


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2. rumpled, messy, slovenly, sloppy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for dishevelled

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Wamibo darted out a dishevelled head, and looked at him wildly.

  • He is hatless and unwashed and dishevelled, standing in the Blackfriars Road.

    Despair's Last Journey

    David Christie Murray

  • Her appearance is that of a tall, gaunt hag, with dishevelled hair.

    Russian Fairy Tales

    W. R. S. Ralston

  • Then French came in, and behind him a lady in black, dishevelled, bathed in tears.

    Marriage la mode

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • Then his own eyes grew merry, as he glanced at the tearful, dishevelled Theodora.

    Teddy: Her Book

    Anna Chapin Ray

British Dictionary definitions for dishevelled


US disheveled

  1. (esp of hair) hanging loosely
  2. (of general appearance) unkempt; untidy
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Word Origin

C15 dischevelee, from Old French deschevelé, from des- dis- 1 + chevel hair, from Latin capillus


verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled
  1. to disarrange (the hair or clothes) of (someone)
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Derived Formsdishevelment, 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

Word Origin and History for dishevelled



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.

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also dishevelled, early 15c., "without dressed hair," parallel form of dishevel (adj.); see dishevel. General sense of "with disordered dress" is from c.1600.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper