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dis- +‎ avow, or from Old French desavouer.


  • IPA(key): /dɪsəˈvaʊ/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊ


disavow (third-person singular simple present disavows, present participle disavowing, simple past and past participle disavowed)

  1. (transitive) To strongly and solemnly refuse to own or acknowledge; to deny responsibility for, approbation of, and the like.
    Synonyms: abjure, deny, disclaim, disown, reject
    Antonyms: accept, own up
    He was charged with embezzlement, but he disavows the crime.
  2. (transitive) To deny; to show the contrary of; to deny legitimacy or achievement of any kind.
    Synonyms: disprove, deny, impugn, reject, repudiate
    Antonyms: accept, prove
    Because of her dissatisfaction, she now disavows the merits of fascism.


  • 1809, James Madison, First State of the Union address:
    These considerations not having restrained the British Government from disavowing the arrangement by virtue of which its orders in council were to be revoked, and the event authorizing the renewal of commercial intercourse having thus not taken place, it necessarily became a question of equal urgency and importance whether the act prohibiting that intercourse was not to be considered as remaining in legal force.
  • 1884, Edwin Abbott Abbott, Flatland:
    In a still more obscure passage he now desires to disavow the Circular or aristocratic tendencies with which some critics have naturally credited him.
  • 1900 December – 1901 August, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, chapter 12, in The First Men in the Moon, London: George Newnes, [], published 1901, →OCLC:
    It came to me as an absolute, for a moment an overwhelming shock. It seemed as though it wasn't a face, as though it must needs be a mask, a horror, a deformity, that would presently be disavowed or explained.
  • December 13 2021, Molly Ball, Jeffrey Kluger, Alejandro de la Garza, “Elon Musk: Person of the Year 2021”, in Time[1]:
    Musk has disavowed terrestrial political affiliations and maintained good relations with politicians of both parties, including Presidents Obama and Trump, though he quit the latter’s business council after only a few months over the decision to pull out of the Paris climate accords.

Related terms[edit]