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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for dishevelment

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The Marquis, besides his dishevelment, was looking very lean and pale.

    John Splendid

    Neil Munro

  • Dishevelment is seldom fair to see, and Theresa did not look beautiful.


    Emily Hilda Young

  • The dislocation is its entrance, the dishevelment its strength.

    Incredible Adventures

    Algernon Blackwood

  • But it has an idle abundance and wantonness, a romantic shabbiness and dishevelment.

    Italian Hours

    Henry James

  • She saw that she was somewhat pale and that she had an indefinable air of dishevelment.


    Sax Rohmer

British Dictionary definitions for dishevelment


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 dishevelment



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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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper