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Disorganized vs. Unorganized

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips

Do disorganized and unorganized mean the same thing?

After all, how many different words do we need to describe something which is not organized? If you have ever lived or worked with someone who does not put a high value on cleanliness, you know that there are many different types of messes. Consequently, English has many different words to describe messiness. Many writers aren’t sure of the difference between the words disorganized and unorganized. They are related in meaning, but have subtle differences that are important to remember.

Continue reading to find out whether something is unorganized or disorganized.

Unorganized as adjective:

The word unorganized is used as an adjective in English language where it means something that is not organized.

He had all the unorganized data.

Unorganized also means something not represented by or formed into a trade union.

The unorganized white-collar workers went for a strike.

Disorganized as adjective:

The word disorganized is also used as an adjective and have very similar meaning to unorganized. It means something that is not properly planned and controlled.

The campaign was hopelessly disorganized.

Disorganized also refers to a person who is unable to plan one's activities efficiently.

She's very muddled and disorganized.


The program coordinator cleans his office every Friday, but by the next Wednesday, it is back to being a disorganized mess.

After a series of defeats in the yearly elections, the party’s leadership was accused of being disorganized and ineffective.

The Americans looked sloppy and disorganized compared with their performance against Honduras, but they regrouped before halftime. –The New York Times

The Vikings are 5-7 overall. Smiley believes one more win would be the most in school history, but he’s still sifting through unorganized records. –The Washington Times

Disorganized or unorganized:

Disorganized and unorganized are both adjectives that refer to states of messiness. If something is disorganized, it used to be organized, but it isn’t anymore. Think of the office of someone who lets work pile up over the course of the week. In contrast, if something is unorganized, it was never organized in the first place, like the garbage in a dumpster. Now, let’s go over a helpful memory trick to remember disorganized vs. unorganized. These adjectives are confusing since only their prefixes are different. Fortunately, those prefixes also provide us a clue about their meanings. Disorganized shares its prefix dis- with other words that mean no longer orderly, like the adjective disheveled and the noun disarray. By remembering the similarities between these words with related meanings, you should always be able to remember that disorganized means no longer orderly.

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