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[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.
Origin of dishevel
1590-1600; back formation from disheveled
Related forms
dishevelment, noun


or (especially British) dishevelled

[dih-shev-uh ld] /dɪˈʃɛv əld/
hanging loosely or in disorder; unkempt:
disheveled hair.
untidy; disarranged:
a disheveled appearance.
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dishevelled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They looked at him curiously, but that might well be, owing to his dishevelled condition.

    Mysterious Mr. Sabin E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • He thought of her heavy hair, dishevelled, glimmering in her eyes.

    Lorraine Robert W. Chambers
  • He was deadly pale, and his hair, which hung in dishevelled locks over his face, was clotted with blood.

    The Coral Island R.M. Ballantyne
  • I was all dishevelled and one stain of mud from head to foot.

    A Daughter of Raasay William MacLeod Raine
  • His long hair was dishevelled, his dress disordered, and a gloomy frown darkened features naturally open and ingenuous.

    Calderon The Courtier Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • We speak pleonastically of "dishevelled hair," while Old Fr.

  • The cowering maids and eunuchs stared at her dishevelled hair and dress, but hardly knew that she had been gone.

    God Wills It! William Stearns Davis
  • Religion is no dishevelled mass of aspiration, prayer, and faith.

  • dishevelled, liberated, and burning with blushes, she watched the end of the train shrink away.

    Kincaid's Battery George W. Cable
British Dictionary definitions for dishevelled


(esp of hair) hanging loosely
(of general appearance) unkempt; untidy
Word Origin
C15 dischevelee, from Old French deschevelé, from des-dis-1 + chevel hair, from Latin capillus


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 dishevelled

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 dishevelled



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.



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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