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misinform

[ mis-in-fawrm ]
/ ˌmɪs ɪnˈfɔrm /
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See synonyms for: misinform / misinformed on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
to give false or misleading information to.
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Origin of misinform

First recorded in 1350–1400, misinform is from the Middle English word misenfourmen.See mis-1, inform1

OTHER WORDS FROM misinform

mis·in·form·ant, mis·in·form·er, nounmis·in·form·a·tive, adjectivemis·in·for·ma·tion [mis-in-fer-mey-shuhn], /ˌmɪs ɪn fərˈmeɪ ʃən/, noun

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH misinform

disinformation, misinformation
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

MISINFORM VS. DISINFORM

What's the difference between misinform and disinform?

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

This distinction can also be seen in the difference between their verb forms, misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation refers to false information, regardless of whether or not it’s intended to mislead or deceive people. In contrast, disinformation refers to false information that’s spread with the specific intent of misleading or deceiving 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 misinform and disinform is to remember that to misinform can be a mistake, while to disinform is always dishonest.

Here’s an example of misinform and disinform 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 misinformation and disinformation.

Quiz yourself on misinform vs. disinform!

Should misinform or disinform be used in the following sentence?

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

How to use misinform in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for misinform

misinform
/ (ˌmɪsɪnˈfɔːm) /

verb
(tr) to give incorrect information to

Derived forms of misinform

misinformant or misinformer, nounmisinformation (ˌmɪsɪnfəˈmeɪʃən), 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
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