"Dissemble" in a sentence

Discussion in 'English Only' started by prr, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. prr Senior Member

    I am wondering what prepositions (if any) should follow "dissemble," as I don't hear this word that often, although I think it is a good term to use in the following sentence:

    "Benjamin Franklin dissembled as a widowed old woman and wrote opinionated letters to the newspaper."

    The online dictionaries I've consulted say that dissemble is both transitive and intransitive. I believe the use in the above sentence is intransitive.

    Also, it is possible to dissemble to others, is it not? "The emperor dissembled to the troops that he was experienced in war" or something like that.... maybe "dissembled to the people as a peasant so they wouldn't recognize him."
  2. chuff

    chuff Senior Member

    Normally, in its transitive usage, a person "dissembles his emotion."

    Intransitively, dissembling is an act in itself with no preposition that goes with the verb.
    Any preposition would be relating to the troops (for example, to, in front of, before). Since to dissemble is just to hide or to conceal one's emotions, feelings, or beliefs, it is not necessarily to anyone or anything.
  3. prr Senior Member

    So you wouldn't use "dissemble" in the sense of "impersonating" a woman or a peasant, etc.? It is primarily intangible qualities/emotions that are dissembled?
  4. xqby

    xqby Senior Member

    Oxnard, CA
    English (U.S.)
    I agree with Chuff, it doesn't normally mean "impersonate." There's a total of 76 hits for "dissemble" in BYU's American corpora, and I didn't see any of them use it that way.

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