- The state of being only partly or scantily clothed.
“My favorite portrait shows the ballet dancer in dishabille.”
“I was surprised by the doorbell and couldn’t answer while in dishabille.”
“The actress is in dishabille for the third act, but it’s a beautifully vulnerable performance.”
French, early 18th century
Why this word?
Translated directly from French, “dishabille” means “undressed.” In the 18th century, it was quite “en vogue” (“in fashion”) to borrow French terms, and “en déshabillé” came into English to refer to being scantily clad, or at least dressed carelessly. Originally, the English spelling was phonetic, and we find it in print in various formations: “disabilé,” “disabilly,” “deshabilé,” “dishabilie,” and “dishabilly.” Today, a bit of the French influence remains, but the spelling has been standardized — being in a state of undress is called “being in dishabille.”
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