Community Comment

A Word A Day -- dissociate

October 29, 2012

Word of the Day

  • dissociate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \dih-SOH-shee-ayt\


: disconnect, disunite

Although both politicians are members of the same party, the Senator is trying to dissociate herself from the unpopular governor.

"It's not easy to go back to the place where you became an adult. You can't dissociate yourself from the angst, the mistakes, the naïveté." — From an article by Danielle Pergament in The New York Times, September 30, 2012


"Dissociate" and its synonym "disassociate" can both mean "to separate from association or union with another." "Associate" is from Latin "ad-," meaning "to," and "sociare," meaning "to join." "Dis-" means "do the opposite of." So both "dissociate" and "disassociate" indicate severing that which is united, but some commentators argue that "disassociate" is illogical because it indicates separating and uniting simultaneously. "Dissociate" is slightly older, dating from 1582; "disassociate" dates from 1603. "Dissociate" is recommended by a number of commentators on the ground that it is shorter, which it is by a grand total of two letters—not the firmest ground for an endorsement. Both words are in current good use, but "disassociate" is used more often in the U.S.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



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