in the context of the computer software industry, what would be the opposite of "assemble a team"?

a colleague of mine (who is a native english speaker) suggested "dissemble", but looking up the word meaning yield:

Conceal or disguise one's true feelings or beliefs […]

… so it seems she meant "disassemble":

Take (something) to pieces […]

since i don't question her lingual skills, i wonder; could "dissemble" be used in that context, interchangeably?

  • @EliranMalka did your coworker suggest dissemble verbally or in writing? many speakers will slur or skip the extra syllable in disassemble, making the two words sound identical
    – costrom
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 18:06
  • 2
    To be clear: "dissemble" could not possibly be used, in its existing dictionary definition, to be the opposite of "assemble". But it's likely a common mistake. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 18:20
  • 24
    From experience, the opposite of "assembling a development team" is "designing a project".
    – Kaithar
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:58
  • to put this question in context, here's the goal of my research on disassembling teams (API design on an open source software project) :) Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 12:58

8 Answers 8


MorganFR wrote in a comment: "you're probably looking for disband or one of its synonyms."


transitive verb: to break up the organization of : dissolve
intransitive verb: to break up as an organization : disperse

"They've decided to disband the club."
"The members of the organization have decided to disband."

  • 1
    @EliranMalka I'd say yes unless you're writing formally, in which case maybe (depending on if it's strictly correct, which it may not be). If you say "he dissembled the team" in a conversation, everyone will understand exactly what you mean
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 16:41
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    dissemble means to lie. disassemble means to break apart. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 16:55
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    @EliranMalka I would say that using dissemble when you mean take apart is an error. People might still do it, as your colleague suggested, but they would be wrong.
    – Hellion
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 17:37
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    Thirding @PaulChernoch. You can use dissemble when you mean disband or disassemble, but you run the risk that someone who hears you/reads your code will actually know what the word means and either a) get confused about what you mean or b) know what you mean, but think you sound ignorant.
    – 1006a
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 17:53
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    If you say "he dissembled the team" in a conversation, everyone will understand exactly what you mean. I think this is true, but not because 'dissembled' makes sense here. In fact, precisely because it does not make sense, everyone will automatically assume that you meant "he disassembled the team" but slurred/elided/muted the 'a' sound. Most people wouldn't even consciously notice the difference between what you said and what they understood. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 5:29


See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissolve

Typical uses are to: dissolve parliament, dissolve a partnership, dissolve a marriage. "break up" is given as its synonym.

Part of the definition from Merriam-Webster:

transitive verb

1a : to cause to disperse or disappear : destroy (do not dissolve and deface the laws of charity — Francis Bacon)

1b : to separate into component parts : disintegrate (dissolved the company into smaller units)

1c : to bring to an end : terminate (the king's power to dissolve parliament) (their partnership was dissolved)

1d law : annul (dissolve an injunction)

  • 1
    While it's good that you provided a link to a definition, you should also quote the relevant parts of the definition. Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 5:42

Break up

1.1 (of a gathering or collective) disband

In your context, you might say

After Tim left, management decided to break up the team

Also consider 'split':

After Tim left, management decided to split the team

  • Just an observation of different nuances. Disband implies the the team ceases to exist. Split implies that the team is divided and the pieces continue to exist. Break up is ambiguous. It could mean the same as disband. It could mean the same as split. It could also refer to "repurposing" the team members in a way that preserves the team's experience by seeding the members into other teams.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 20:09
  • @fixer1234 Definitely true. Good point.
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 9:21

In the peculiar project management parlance the stages of team development are:

The five stages:

Stage 1: Forming

Stage 2: Storming

Stage 3: Norming

Stage 4: Performing

Stage 5: Adjourning

You are asking about the final stage, adjourning, as the project is closed out and the team disbands.

  • 1
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit I agree they are not normal English, however they are common terms in software project management, which is the area the OP mentioned. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 19:23
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    @SpehroPefhany: Sorry, I forgot I'm not on Stack Overflow here so you wouldn't know — to be clear, I'm a software development manager. :) Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 19:49
  • 1
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit In that case I probably should specify that they're PMI terminology straight out of PMBOK. None of which is necessary to actually competently manage a project, of course, but credentialism rules these days. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 21:00
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    Feels like "adjourning" was chosen bacause it rhymes, not because it it the most appropriate... Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 16:18
  • 1
    @heltonbiker Only, it doesn't rhyme! Unless you pronounce it incorrectly. "Form" doesn't sound like "fern".
    – ErikE
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 9:00

I think that there are nuances to the chosen antonym. Dissolve and disband imply that the team is disassembled virtually passively - the individuals returning to previous roles. Dismantling the team conveys a requirement for additional effort, perhaps to identify alternative placements for the defunct team's members.

Dissolve is frequently used to describe a process that requires little or no apparent effort:

"Casein (a dairy protein) will not simply dissolve in water." "After failing to convene for the third time in succession, the Office Party Committee dissolved by unspoken consent."

Disband is generally used when members of a group or unit stop acting collectively:

"I started the band, I disbanded it. It's as simple as that." - John Lennon.

Dismantle requires work to be done and does not generally occur effortlessly:

Originally meant to describe the destruction of the defenses of a fortress (French: "uncloaking" the fortress), the word still conveys that effort is required.

"The Lego Certified Professional will carefully dismantle his prototype, rather than dropping it on the workbench to break it apart"

  • Can you provide some sources to back up your response? Where is the information re: the inherent implications contained within dismantling, dissolve and disband coming from?
    – freeling10
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 4:20
  • @freeling10 Done.
    – Mike VanIn
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 19:41

"Dissemble" only ever means fibbing, lying or obfuscating. Is is not an antonym of "assemble". Probably grammarians have a term for this, "false antonym" or something.

As others have said, "disband" or "dissolve" would be the normal words to use for breaking up a team. "Disassemble" is an antonym for assemble but is not, in my experience, idiomatic for disbanding a group of people in formal contexts.

Your friend may be engaging in word play (I had a friend who insisted on "disintegrate" for taking the derivative in calculus, since it was the opposite of integrating) or she may be making an honest mistake. "Dissemble" is actually pretty obscure and it's possible she heard it in an ambiguous context and just starting using it for what it sounds like it might mean. "Infamous" is another one that that happens to. Perhaps someone famous will use "dissemble the committee" on Twitter and it'll catch on.

  • I suppose "disintegrate" would have been the term had the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus come before the two separate branches. Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 4:39

What about Dismantle?

definition: to get rid of a system or organization, usually over a period of time:

-Over the next three years, we will be gradually dismantling the company and selling off the profitable units.

-Unions accuse the government of dismantling the National Health Service.

Source: Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press

  • Note that "dismantle" has a connotation: That of destroying from the outside, hollowing-out? So it's used in distructive/negative contexts.
    – uliwitness
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 19:51

It's verb (noun is different) break up
phrasal verb of break

definition: disintegrate or disperse. "the grey clouds had begun to break up" (of a gathering or collective) disband; end. "after about an hour, the meeting broke up"

Michael was first, but still.

  • 1
    your answer is somewhat incomprehensible, what word are you suggesting to use? Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 14:43
  • Break up, I edited the answer. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 14:47

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