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[dih-shev-uh ld] /dɪˈʃɛv əld/
hanging loosely or in disorder; unkempt:
disheveled hair.
untidy; disarranged:
a disheveled appearance.
Also, especially British, dishevelled.
Origin of disheveled
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English discheveled < Old French deschevele, past participle of descheveler to dishevel the hair, equivalent to des- dis-1 + -cheveler, derivative of chevel a hair < Latin capillus
Related forms
undisheveled, adjective
2. rumpled, messy, slovenly, sloppy.


[dih-shev-uh l] /dɪˈʃɛv əl/
verb (used with object), disheveled, disheveling or (especially British) dishevelled, dishevelling.
to let down, as hair, or wear or let hang in loose disorder, as clothing.
to cause untidiness and disarray in:
The wind disheveled the papers on the desk.
1590-1600; back formation from disheveled
Related forms
dishevelment, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for disheveled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In utter misery and despair her head bowed in her hands; and her brown hair, disheveled, dropped down.

    The Sky Line of Spruce Edison Marshall
  • His all-night ride from Cherbourg had left him disheveled, unshaven and hungry.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • The face of Laura, with disheveled hair and fear-widened eyes, was peering in at him.

    Cursed George Allan England
  • He was disheveled, surprised and angry, but Garlock gave him no chance to speak.

    The Galaxy Primes Edward Elmer Smith
  • A lady's disheveled hat blew by me, and with the howl of the wind came, almost drowned, excited human utterances.

    The Spell of the Rockies Enos A. Mills
British Dictionary definitions for disheveled


verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
to disarrange (the hair or clothes) of (someone)
Derived Forms
dishevelment, noun
Word Origin
C15: back formation from dishevelled
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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Contemporary definitions for disheveled

messed up or disarrayed, esp. the hair; untidy

Word Origin

Old French descheveler 'to disarrange the hair'

Usage Note

also dishevelled's 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin and History for disheveled

also dishevelled, early 15c., "without dressed hair," parallel form of dishevel (adj.); see dishevel. General sense of "with disordered dress" is from c.1600.



originally an adjective, "bare-headed," late 14c., variant (with muted final -e) of dishevely, from Old French deschevele "bare-headed, with shaven head," past participle adjective from descheveler "to disarrange the hair," from des- "apart" (see dis-) + chevel "hair," from Latin capillus "hair" (see capillary). Of the hair, "dissheveled," mid-15c. OED says use as a verb is chiefly a back-formation from disheveled.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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