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verb | diss-uh-BYOOZ
What It Means
To disabuse someone of something, such as a belief, is to show or convince them that the belief is incorrect.
// Anyone expecting a light, romantic story will be quickly disabused of that notion by the opening chapter of the novel.
Examples of DISABUSE
“Wineries that persist in using heavier glass continue to blame us—consumers—for believing a heavy bottle signals a better wine. We should disabuse them of their belief in our gullibility. These peacock bottles, strutting to catch our attention, won’t work.” — Dave Mcintyre, The Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2023
Did You Know?
Taken as a product of its parts, one might assume that disabuse means “to not abuse.” While the usage has changed over the years, that assumption isn’t entirely wrong. We know the verb abuse as a word with various meanings having to do with bad physical or verbal treatment, as well as incorrect or excessive use, but when disabuse first appeared in the 17th century, there was a sense of abuse, now obsolete, that meant “to deceive.” Francis Bacon used that meaning, for example, when he wrote in 1605, “You are much abused if you think your virtue can withstand the King’s power.” The prefix dis- has the sense of undoing the effect of a verb, so it’s logical that disabuse means “to undeceive.” English speakers didn’t come up with the idea of joining dis- to abuse all on their own, however. It was the French who first appended their prefix dés- to their verb abuser; our disabuse is modeled after the French word disabuser.
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