Legal Dictionary


Definition of disavow



to disavow (third-person singular simple present disavows, present participle disavowing, simple past and past participle disavowed)

  1. To refuse strongly and solemnly to own or acknowledge; to deny responsibility for, approbation of, and the like; to disclaim; to disown.

    He was charged with embezzlement, but he disavows the crime.

  2. To deny; to show the contrary of; to disprove.

    Because of her dissatisfaction, she now disavows the merits of socialism.


  • 1809 - James Madison, First State of the Union address
    These considerations not having restrained the British Government from disavowing the arrangement by virtue of which its orders in council were to be revoked, and the event authorizing the renewal of commercial intercourse having thus not taken place, it necessarily became a question of equal urgency and importance whether the act prohibiting that intercourse was not to be considered as remaining in legal force.
  • 1884 - Edwin Abbott Abbott, Flatland
    In a still more obscure passage he now desires to disavow the Circular or aristocratic tendencies with which some critics have naturally credited him.
  • 1901 - H. G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon, ch 12
    It came to me as an absolute, for a moment an overwhelming shock. It seemed as though it wasn't a face, as though it must needs be a mask, a horror, a deformity, that would presently be disavowed or explained.


  • (to refuse to own): abjure, deny, disclaim, disown, reject
  • (to deny or show the contrary of): deny, disprove, impugn, reject, repudiate


  • (to refuse to own): accept, own up
  • (to deny or show the contrary of): accept, prove

Related terms

  • disavowal
  • disavowed


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex fori
2.     landed property
3.     lex situs
4.     respondent
5.     default judgment
6.     tort law
7.     living will
8.     lex causae
9.     law
10.     salacious