Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The state of being partially or very casually dressed.
  • n. Casual or lounging attire.
  • n. An intentionally careless manner.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Extreme casual or disorderly dress, shirt tail out, sleeves unbuttoned, etc.
  • n. A loose, negligent dress.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An undress; a loose, negligent dress; deshabille.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Undress, or negligent dress; specifically, a loose morning-dress.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the state of being carelessly or partially dressed

Etymologies

French déshabillé, from past participle of déshabiller, to undress : des-, dis- + habiller, to clothe; see habiliment.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The first time we meet Victoria, she is wretching her guts into the toilet with her mother standing above her in dishabille, smoking a cigarette into her face while threatening to throw her out of the house.

    Kent Haruf discusses Plainsong

  • The moment we alighted, "My friend has been ill," said she, "and is in dishabille, will you shew her an apartment, that she may alter her dress?"

    The Castle of Wolfenbach

  • The word dishabille (from the French déshabillé 'undressed', which still refers to a negligee) uses a common euphemism for nudity to refer to being partially or very casually dressed, a matter of comparison with the fashion-sensitive 'proper' dress, not to an actual revealing characteris - tic of the 'lesser' garments worn.

    Recently Uploaded Slideshows

  • Every now and then some would-be curmudgeon rises up on his hind legs and yowls at the sky that the latest form of social networking is a blight on the cultural landscape and proves that people have nothing better to do than post pictures of their pets in various shocking forms of dishabille.

    MIND MELD: How Does Blogging and Social Networking Affect the Publishing Industry?

  • Surveying the park occupants' slovenly dishabille, I thought of a recent report that students in Yale's elite "Grand Strategy" seminar have been notified of discounts from a tailor from Bangkok and been advised that "Once you have a custom suit, it's really hard to go back."

    Jim Sleeper: Markets, New Media, the Occupiers, and the Next Step

  • This coffee-table collection of industrial-therapeutic dishabille — 70 abandoned asylums in 30 states, photographed over six years — is as gorgeous and meditative as it is harrowing.

    Cover to Cover

  • It made most of the men uneasy when she would try to drag them on to the dance floor, they in their finest dishabille, she in blue jean bellbottoms and nothing else.

    One of Us

  • If it's the occupiers' unsanitary dishabille and unsavory conduct that upsets their critics, might we compare the conditions in the parks with the sanitation, sanity, and law-abidingness in Congress, the major investment banks, and the New York Police Department?

    Jim Sleeper: Behind The Snarking About OWS

  • Is it any wonder that mortgage writing and housing remain in dishabille?

    Martin T. Sosnoff: My S&M Relationship With Citi and Morgan

  • A trip they take together to Italy for a film premiere -- a reward worthy of a surrogate wife -- is interrupted by yet another clueless clingy ex-lover who in flagrant morning-after dishabille tries to make nice with Cleo by talking about her boyfriend when she too was 11.

    Patricia Zohn: CultureZohn: Fathers and Daughters Meet in Newer Wave Somewhere

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Comments

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  • I was having a hard time remembering this word just now--I kept wanting to say "disheveled."

    March 22, 2014

  • “This coffee-table collection of industrial-therapeutic dishabille—70 abandoned asylums in 30 states, photographed over six years—is as gorgeous and meditative as it is harrowing.”

    The Atlantic, Cover to Cover, by Lynne A. Isbell, April, 2010

    March 24, 2010

  • Bryan Garner seems to consider this to be the only correct spelling.

    June 21, 2009

  • Bryan Garner seems to consider this to be the only correct spelling.

    June 21, 2009

  • Ouch. Wasn't aware this was a legitimate variation. My future self (wanting to make a correction) has possibly been saved some embarrassment.

    December 13, 2007

  • My beloved Andy Partridge has an adorable story about how growing up he thought "disabell" was slang for breasts because his mother would say "You saw me in dishabille".

    OK, so maybe you had to be there. Trust me, it was adorable.

    December 13, 2007

  • April 9, 2007

  • The state of being partly undressed, or dressed in a negligent or careless style; undress.
    Usage: (1885 Athenæum 7 Nov. 601/1) "The shortcomings of English costume pale before the déshabillé of the Dutch colonial ladies."

    February 5, 2007