Disarray Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster


dis·​ar·​ray | \ ˌdis-ə-ˈrā How to pronounce disarray (audio) \

Definition of disarray

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a lack of order or sequence : confusion, disorder the room was in disarray … the disarray of paper in the In-Out basket …— Jackie Weger
2 : disorderly dress : dishabille


disarrayed; disarraying; disarrays

Definition of disarray (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to throw into disorder The discarded magazines and newspapers, the layers of dust and disarrayed rugs …Gloria Naylor
2 : undress

Examples of disarray in a Sentence

Noun The room was in disarray. The company has fallen into complete disarray. Verb he had accidentally disarrayed his brother's CDs, leaving a telltale sign of borrowing without permission
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Elsewhere, some shows on Broadway in New York have been in disarray with cancellations and COVID shutdowns. Doug George, chicagotribune.com, 5 Jan. 2022 Police entered the apartment, which was in disarray, and spoke to the woman who lives in the apartment. cleveland, 4 Jan. 2022 Yet the Kremlin clearly delights in seeing Bosnia in disarray, given that the United States and Europe once championed it as a showcase of successful nation-building. New York Times, 2 Jan. 2022 The city schools were in disarray at the time and Schmoke played an active role in overhauling the system’s funding and governance in the late 1990s. Washington Post, 1 Jan. 2022 The investigation proved difficult because TrueCare’s records were in disarray, emails show. Hallie Miller, baltimoresun.com, 29 Dec. 2021 By the time Mullen was fired Nov. 21, the Gators were in disarray and the program’s foundation crumbling. Edgar Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, 23 Dec. 2021 Vacant lots and missing windows, crumpled cabinets and offices in disarray—whether trashed by looters or former employees is unclear—round out the place. Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic, 8 Dec. 2021 Pollack-Pelzner’s firing immediately caused disarray on campus, leaving students in his two English courses in the lurch, not knowing where or how to turn in their final papers, many of which were due Tuesday. oregonlive, 29 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The hands-off approach in Washington is adding to disarray around the death penalty nationwide as pressure increases in some conservative states to find ways to continue executions amid shortages of the lethal-injection drugs. Michael Tarm, Anchorage Daily News, 18 June 2021 Eslam Negm is no stranger to disarray on the Suez Canal. NBC News, 2 Apr. 2021 Culley assumes a tough challenge of changing the culture of a Texans franchise that in the last year has gone from playoff squad to disarray. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, 28 Jan. 2021 The economic benefits are nothing compared to disarray and division within NATO. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 16 Dec. 2020 Naird’s situation is of a man with ramrod-straight posture prostrated and disarrayed at many odd angles. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, 28 May 2020 Large or small, the surface had to appear elegantly disarrayed. Julie Lasky, New York Times, 11 Mar. 2020 In this one, the first of a series published from 1935 to 1961, readers are introduced to a nervous Londoner named Pongo Twistleton, whose orderly life is disarrayed by the visit of his peremptory and mischievous uncle Fred from the country. Jesse Green, New York Times, 11 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disarray.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of disarray


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for disarray


Middle English disaraye, disaray "disorder, broken military formation," borrowed from Anglo-French dissairay, noun derivative of desaraier "to mishandle, throw into disorder" — more at disarray entry 2


Middle English disarraien "to break up (a military formation), throw into disorder," borrowed from Anglo-French desaraier "to mishandle, throw into disorder," from des- dis- + arraier, arreyer, aroier "to arrange, order, marshal, equip, attire" — more at array entry 1

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The first known use of disarray was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Disarray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disarray. Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for disarray



English Language Learners Definition of disarray

: a lack of order : a confused or messy condition


dis·​ar·​ray | \ ˌdis-ə-ˈrā How to pronounce disarray (audio) \

Kids Definition of disarray

: a confused or messy condition The room was in complete disarray.

More from Merriam-Webster on disarray

Nglish: Translation of disarray for Spanish Speakers


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