Dictionary.com

disinform

[ dis-in-fawrm ]
/ ˌdɪs ɪnˈfɔrm /
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See synonyms for: disinform / disinformed on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)

to give or supply disinformation to.

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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of disinform

First recorded in 1975–80; back formation from disinformation

OTHER WORDS FROM disinform

dis·in·form·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

DISINFORM VS. MISINFORM

What's the difference between disinform and misinform?

Disinform means to intentionally provide or spread false information with the intent to mislead or deceive. Misinform, which is much more commonly used, means to provide someone with false information, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is being done intentionally.

This distinction can also be seen in the difference between their verb forms, disinformation and misinformation. Disinformation refers to false information that’s spread with the specific intent of misleading or deceiving people. In contrast, misinformation refers to false information, regardless of whether or not it’s intended to mislead or deceive people.

Due to their similarity, the terms are sometimes used in overlapping ways. All disinformation is misinformation, but not all misinformation is disinformation. Disinformation is the more specific of the two because it always implies that the false information is being provided or spread on purpose.

Disinform and disinformation are especially used in the context of large-scale deception, such as a disinformation campaign by a government that targets the population of another country.

On the other hand, a person can intentionally misinform someone, but they could also misinform someone by telling them false information that they believe to be true. The adjective misinformed can be used to describe people who have been the recipient of misinformation.

One way to remember the difference between disinform and misinform is to remember that to disinform is always dishonest, while to misinform can be a mistake.

Here’s an example of disinform and misinform used correctly in a sentence.

Example: The intelligence report concluded that the rumors spread prior to the election were not simply the result of a few random people misinforming others, but rather of a coordinated campaign by a foreign power to disinform the electorate.

Want to learn more? Read the breakdown of the difference between disinformation and misinformation.

Quiz yourself on disinform vs. misinform!

Should disinform or misinform be used in the following sentence?

We can’t publish this information until it’s confirmed—we don’t want to _____ the public.

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