[dih-spoh-zuh-buh l]
  1. designed for or capable of being thrown away after being used or used up: disposable plastic spoons; a disposable cigarette lighter.
  2. free for use; available: Every disposable vehicle was sent.
  1. something disposable after a single use, as a paper cup, plate, or napkin.

Origin of disposable

First recorded in 1645–55; dispose + -able
Related formsdis·pos·a·bil·i·ty, dis·pos·a·ble·ness, noundis·pos·a·bly, adverbnon·dis·pos·a·ble, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for disposability


  1. designed for disposal after usedisposable cups
  2. available for use if neededdisposable assets
  1. something, such as a baby's nappy, that is designed for disposal
  2. (plural) short for disposable goods
Derived Formsdisposability or disposableness, noun
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 disposability



1640s, "that may be done without;" see dispose + -able. Meaning "designed to be discarded after one use" is from 1943, originally of diapers, soon of everything; replaced throw-away (1928) in this sense. First recorded use of disposable income (preserving the older sense) is from 1948.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper