Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
June 30th, 2015
Episode 242 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 30, 2015 is: disinformation \dis-in-fer-MAY-shun\ noun : false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth Examples: The writer's latest book examines the effects of propaganda and disinformation during the Cold War. "But more than anything else, we believe the level of fury and disinformation in this debate does a disservice to every student, teacher and taxpayer." editorial, Newsday (New York), April 19, 2015 Did you know? In 1939, a writer describing Nazi intelligence activities noted, "The mood of national suspicion prevalent during the last decade ... is well illustrated by General Krivitsky's account of the German 'Disinformation Service,' engaged in manufacturing fake military plans for the express purpose of having them stolen by foreign governments." Although the Nazis were accused of using disinformation back in the 1930s, the noun and the practice are most often associated with the Soviet KGB. Many people think disinformation is a literal translation of the Russian dezinformatsiya, which means "misinformation," a term the KGB allegedly used in the 1950s to name a department created to dispense propaganda.