Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Dissemble

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is dissemble. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Dissemble is a formal word that means “to conceal facts, feelings, or intentions with deceptive explanations, reasons, etc.” It’s frequently used as a gentler way to say “lie.”

// The board’s members have lost all confidence in the organization’s leader because she has repeatedly dissembled about basic facts about the organization’s financial status.

DISSEMBLE in Context

“If past testimony is any guide, … the CEOs will dissemble and promise to follow up with better answers to any question they do not want to answer in front of cameras.” — Roger McNamee, Wired, 23 Mar. 2021

Did You Know?

We have nothing to hide: dissemble (from the Latin verb dissimulāre, meaning “to disguise the identity of”) stresses the intent to deceive others, especially about facts, feelings, or intentions. Most often found in formal or literary speech and writing, dissemble also implies that the facts, feelings, or intentions someone is attempting to conceal could land that person in hot water if discovered, as when a politician dissembles at a press conference when faced with questions about a recent scandal. Typical use notwithstanding, it’s perfectly fine to bust out dissemble in less formal contexts and conversations. Just be careful not to confuse dissemble with disassemble, which means “to take apart.”

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