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4 Comments

  • Quote: “Disenthral means release – not from captivation but from captivity; it means ‘set free, liberate’. This is because enthral originally meant ‘hold in thrall’ quite literally – to enslave or hold captive – and disenthral contains and negates that earlier sense.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m interpreting ‘disenthral’ to mean release from the captivity of captivation –
    ie, I may become captivated by an attractive but not really very good person, and, knowing that this person isn’t very nice, wishing I wasn’t, and wanting to be ‘disenthralled’ – to be set free from this captivation.

  • Thanks for the input, Catherine. It appears disenthral can have either sense; the OED defines it as: “to set free from enthralment or bondage; to liberate from thraldom”, and its citations refer to being disenthralled from tyranny and passions, among other things. Thraldom, in turn, it defines as “the state or condition of being a thrall; bondage, servitude; captivity”, with both literal and figurative subsenses.

  • Hi Stan and Catherine. This is a very rare word indeed in modern usage: the huge corpus I use has only 95 citations, including quite a bit of spam. Leaving those and archaic examples aside, we find lines for the meanings of ‘set free from captivity’ and ‘disenchant’. Here are a few examples:
    By the end of the book, however, I was completely disenthralled.
    It’s awfully easy to become disenthralled by current events.
    As 1862 drew to a close, Vicksburg had been disenthralled.
    Count Egmont, who was not yet disenthralled from the spell of the court…
    As GOP voters grow disenthralled with Texas Gov Rick Perry…
    The challenge will be twofold: disenthralling ourselves of old paradigms and also …
    The fourth and fifth examples are perhaps the closest to the meaning you refer to, Catherine.

  • Thanks for the interesting examples, Liz. There aren’t very many citations in COHA either, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone use the word in speech.