verb (used with object), dis·en·gaged, dis·en·gag·ing.

  1. to release from attachment or connection; loosen; unfasten: to disengage a clutch.
  2. to free (oneself) from an engagement, pledge, obligation, etc.: He accepted the invitation, but was later forced to disengage himself.
  3. Military. to break off action with (an enemy).

verb (used without object), dis·en·gaged, dis·en·gag·ing.

  1. to become disengaged; free oneself.


  1. to release or become released from a connection, obligation, etcpress the clutch to disengage the gears
  2. military to withdraw (forces) from close action
  3. fencing to move (one’s blade) from one side of an opponent’s blade to another in a circular motion to bring the blade into an open line of attack

c.1600 in figurative sense; 1660s in literal sense of “detach,” from dis- “do the opposite of” + engage (q.v.). Related: Disengaged; disengaging.

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