1846, "deviation from an east-facing position;" 1882, "confusion as to direction;" see dis- + orientation. Perhaps its immediate origin in some cases is as a noun of action or state from disorientate (1704).
word-forming element of Latin origin meaning 1. "lack of, not" (as in dishonest); 2. "opposite of, do the opposite of" (as in disallow); 3. "apart, away" (as in discard), from Old French des- or directly from Latin dis- "apart, asunder, in a different direction, between," figuratively "not, un-," also "exceedingly, utterly." Assimilated as dif- before -f- and to di- before most voiced consonants.
The Latin prefix is from PIE *dis- "apart, asunder" (source also of Old English te-, Old Saxon ti-, Old High German ze-, German zer-). The PIE root is a secondary form of *dwis- and thus is related to Latin bis "twice" (originally *dvis) and to duo, on notion of "two ways, in twain" (hence "apart, asunder").
In classical Latin, dis- paralleled de- and had much the same meaning, but in Late Latin dis- came to be the favored form and this passed into Old French as des-, the form used for compound words formed in Old French, where it increasingly had a privative sense ("not"). In English, many of these words eventually were altered back to dis-, while in French many have been altered back to de-. The usual confusion prevails.
As a living prefix in English, it reverses or negatives what it is affixed to. Sometimes, as in Italian, it is reduced to s- (as in spend, splay, sport, sdain for disdain, and the surnames Spencer and Spence).
1839, "arrangement (of a building, etc.) to face east or any other specified direction," noun of action from orient (v.). Meaning "process of determining the points of the compass is by 1868, hence the extended sense of "action of determining one's mental bearings," with reference to new ideas, etc. (1870). Meaning "introduction to a situation" is from 1942. Sense of "the position or arrangement (of something) relative to the points of the compass" is from 1875. Related: Orientational.
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Definitions of disorientation
a wild delusion (especially one induced by a hallucinogenic drug);
Synonyms: freak out
confusion (usually transient) about where you are and how to proceed; uncertainty as to direction;