verb (used without object)

  1. to cease to be seen; vanish from sight.
  2. to cease to exist or be known; pass away; end gradually: One by one the symptoms disappeared.
  3. (of a person) to vanish under suspicious circumstances: The dictator’s outspoken opponent disappeared that evening, shortly after midnight.

verb (used with object)

  1. to cause to disappear: The magician then disappeared the card.
  2. to kidnap or arrest and then imprison or kill (a political opponent) without due process of law.

noun (used with a plural verb)

  1. the disappeared, political opponents who are caused to disappear, as by kidnapping: the disappeared of Argentina.


  1. (intr) to cease to be visible; vanish
  2. (intr) to go away or become lost, esp secretly or without explanation
  3. (intr) to cease to exist, have effect, or be known; become extinct or lostthe pain has disappeared
  4. (tr) (esp in South and Central America) to arrest secretly and presumably imprison or kill (a member of an opposing political group)

early 15c., disaperen, from dis- “do the opposite of” + appear. Earlier was disparish (early 15c.), from French disparaiss-, stem of disparaĆ®tre. Related: Disappeared; disappearing; disappears. Slang disappearing act is originally of magic shows; in figurative sense of “getting away” first attested 1913.

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