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From dis- +‎ embarrass.


disembarrass (third-person singular simple present disembarrasses, present participle disembarrassing, simple past and past participle disembarrassed)

  1. (transitive) To get (someone) out of a difficult or embarrassing situation; to free (someone) from the embarrassment (of a situation); to relieve (someone of a burden, item of clothing, etc.) (often used reflexively).
    • 1726, George Berkeley, letter to Thomas Prior dated 6 February, 1726, in The Works of George Berkeley, London: G. Robinson, Volume 1, p. xliv,[1]
      [] I hope [] that you will have disembarrassed yourself of all sort of business that may detain you here, and so be ready to go with us []
    • 1819, Walter Scott, The Bride of Lammermoor, Chapter 10,[2]
      He had now disembarrassed himself of his riding-dress, and walking up to his daughter, he undid the fastening of her mask.
    • 1854, Charles Dickens, Hard Times, Book 3, Chapter 2,[3]
      Cursing these quick retorts of the young gentleman to whom he was so true a friend, Mr. Harthouse disembarrassed himself of that interview with the smallest conceivable amount of ceremony []
    • 1979, Robert Alter and Carol Cosman, A Lion for Love: A Critical Biography of Stendhal, New York: Basic Books, Part 1, Chapter 3, p. 52,
      The forthright adolescent heroine of that book, wanting to know what is this thing “love” so vaunted in fiction and so warned against by her elders, hires a strapping young peasant to disembarrass her of her virginity.
    • 2004, Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty, London: Picador, Chapter 11, p. 336,[4]
      [] Pat, in another sense, had done nothing for him; Nick hadn’t liked his brand of cagey camp, and had been snotty and priggish with him: so that, more shamefully still, he felt subtly disembarrassed by the death, since it erased the memory of his own bad grace.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To free (something) from complication.
    • 1719, uncredited editor, A Collection of Tracts Concerning Predestination and Providence, Cambridge University Press, Preface,[5]
      [] that we might disembarrass the Style as much as possible, we have taken the liberty to transpose Parentheses and other perplexed Passages, so as to clear and reduce them to continued Sentences.
    • 1764, John Entick et al., The General History of the Late War, London: Edward Dilly and John Millan, Volume 5, Book 6, p. 99-100,[6]
      [] it was unanimously resolved to admit to the treaty, none but the principals in the war, and their acting allies. This exclusion of the neutral interests tended greatly to disembarrass and simplify the negociation, in all outward appearance.
    • 1783, Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, Dublin: Whitestone et al., Volume 1, Lecture 8, pp. 180-181,[7]
      There is no doubt that, by abolishing cases, we have rendered the structure of modern Languages more simple. We have disembarrassed it of all the intricacy which arose from the different forms of declension, of which the Romans had no fewer than five; and from all the irregularities in these several declensions.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To disentangle (two things); to distinguish.
    • 1751, William Warburton, commentary on An Essay on Man in The Works of Alexander Pope, London: J. & P. Knapton et al., Volume 3, p. 63,[8]
      [] though it be difficult to distinguish genuine Virtue from spurious, they having both the same appearance, and both the same public effects, yet they may be disembarrassed. If it be asked, by what means? He replies [] By Conscience []

Derived terms[edit]