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[dis-awr-ee-ent, -ohr-] /dɪsˈɔr iˌɛnt, -ˈoʊr-/
verb (used with object)
to cause to lose one's way:
The strange streets disoriented him.
to confuse by removing or obscuring something that has guided a person, group, or culture, as customs, moral standards, etc.:
Society has been disoriented by changing values.
Psychiatry. to cause to lose perception of time, place, or one's personal identity.
Origin of disorient
1645-55; < French désorienter, equivalent to dés- dis-1 + orienter to orient Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for disorient
  • They help to orient the reader or sometimes, with intent, to disorient.
  • Researchers are trying to make a flashlight that would enable police to disorient or nauseate somebody they are trying to catch.
  • Night lights disorient hatching sea turtles, migrating birds and nocturnal animals.
  • Loud music, fog, strobe lights and dark areas are used to disorient guests.
  • One has to trust him, even while realizing that one of his methods of operation is to disorient us as thoroughly as possible.
  • They purposely did this to disorient us so they could have complete control.
  • Several hunting methods involve using air bubbles to herd, corral, or disorient fish.
  • Brightly lit cities can disorient the hatchlings causing them to head toward developed areas.
  • When thrown, the flash-bang creates a loud sound and bright flash of light to temporarily distract or disorient an adversary.
  • Artificial lights such as flashlights, lanterns, or campfires disorient hatchlings on their way to the ocean.
British Dictionary definitions for disorient


verb (transitive)
to cause (someone) to lose his bearings
to perplex; confuse
Derived Forms
disorientation, noun
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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Word Origin and History for disorient

1650s, from French désorienter "to cause to lose one's bearings," literally "to turn from the east," from dés- (see dis-) + orienter (see orient (v.)). Related: Disoriented; disorienting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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