What is the difference between Guise and Disguise? They sound like antonym word for each other, but they aren't!

  • Please add to your question what you have found in a dictionary and why this is confusing for you. Jul 31 '12 at 9:54
  • @MattЭллен, Guise: (Semblance)Under the guise of friendship he betrayed them. and Disguise: Modifying appearance, He is a master of disguise. Jul 31 '12 at 10:33

Guise: Outward appearance or aspect

Thus guise can be used to describe both what one looks like and how one behaves - In the guise of soldiers the thieves walked boldly past the sentry.

Disguise: To modify the manner or appearance of in order to prevent recognition.

In other words to disguise is to hide one's true guise and to take on a false one.

Often though, the word guise is used when describing the outward appearance of someone who is in disguise- as in my example above.


The King went about the town in the guise of a merchant = The King went about town disguised as a merchant

Guise is a noun meaning appearance, eapecially assumed appearance. It is related to wise meaning way, kind or type, as in lengthwise, edgewise.

Disguise is primarily a verb which can also be used as a noun.

To me, (I may be wrong), guise focuses on appearance generally, including behaviour; disguise focuses on clothing, false beard, make-up etc. and deception.

  • 1
    I like your two example sentences, but maybe the equals sign (=) ought to be replaced with something else? It seems like there's a subtle difference between the two – as though they are not exactly equal. I'd interpret the latter to mean that the King didn't want anyone to recognize him, but the former to mean the King wanted people to recognize him in his merchant's guise. Very interesting contrast, though.
    – J.R.
    Jul 31 '12 at 10:03
  • Agreed to some extent; I think the context has some effect. Aug 1 '12 at 6:32

Guise is not used for physical appearance. It is used for behavior. "Guised as a surgeon, he entered the OT and took out someone's kidney." It means he pretended to be a surgeon but wasn't.

Disguise refers to clothing and appearance.

I am not very sure, but I think the prefix "dis-" is used here to mean "throw away original appearance".

  • Guise is not used for physical appearance. It is used for behavior. Thanks for that point :) Jul 31 '12 at 10:30

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