Why do so many people misspell "deactivate" as "desactivate"?

Where does "desactivate" come from? Anybody know the etymology? I used to have a coworker who used that in our code, but we fired him before I had a chance to ask him why he spelled it that way. I Googled "desactivate" and there are tens of thousands of hits, but I could find no explanations. Is it British or something? I think it'd show up in a dictionary if it were.


I don't know about you, but I don't hear any "s" in deactivate, so sounding it out doesn't seem right. Also, there is no word "disactivate" and "disactivate" has less google hits than "desactivate" does.

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I agree with what Ms.Sarah D has stated. In India, where English is second or third language to many, I have heard people saying electric city for electricity , or petrolmax for petromax. The distortion is unintentional

    Your coworker might have come across several words like disagree, disharmony, dishonest, disengage, disinfect, disable etc where the word 'dis' has been added to some words to form words describing opposite states, qualities or process. Hence,he added 'dis' to the word 'activate' to describe a process opposite to activate.


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  • 1 decade ago

    people probably confuse deactivate and disactivate

    and the reason why they write it as desactivate is because 'de' is the prefix put on many words and they think it looks right? im not sure either but thats what i think

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  • 1 decade ago

    I think it has something to do with immigrants who are like new to English and when they hear someone say that word they probably just sounded it out and many other people copied them after that thinking they were right.

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  • 5 years ago

    In French, ones says "désactiver" so maybe that person was translating from French?

    • Arsene3 years agoReport

      I wanted to say that as well. To be honest, I thought it was desactive too, probably because French is my second language ( English being 3rd) and the verb is Désactiver as you pointed it out. But i won't be confusing myself again.

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