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How To Use Disrupt and Interrupt Correctly

The difference between ‘disrupt’ and ‘interrupt’ is hardly distinguishable due to the nature of the words. Both words have almost the same meaning, which is to stop something. Another reason would be due to the pronunciation of the words that are also almost similar. However, once one understands the difference between the meaning of ‘disrupt’ and ‘interrupt’, it would be so much easier to use the two words correctly.

A typical Malaysian speaks more than one language and has a huge breadth of vocabulary. Usually, one language is more dominantly used and this is where it is easy to be confused about the meanings of words. Especially ones that have almost similar pronunciation and meaning.

Disrupt VS Interrupt

First, we see that both words share the same pronunciation in the syllable ‘-rupt’. Interestingly, ‘rupt’ carries the meaning of ‘burst’ in Latin. We can assume that ‘rupt’ means a change, which is the common ground the words ‘disrupt’ and ‘interrupt’ share. Suffice to say, knowing that this is where the similarity ends is also as important.

According to, ‘disrupt’ means causing confusion or disorder. ‘Disrupt’ can also mean causing a disturbance or a problem.

Referring to, ‘interrupt’ means to stop an ongoing process. ‘Interrupt’ can also mean to stop a continous progress.

Although both ‘disrupt’ and ‘interrupt’ convey that something is put to a halt, it shows how differently the action is done. ‘Disrupt’ stops something by causing a problem, while ‘interrupt’ stops something by force. For further understanding, let’s look at the sentences below with their Bahasa Melayu translations.

‘Causing Confusion or Disorder’ – Disrupt

  1. My Zoom meeting was disrupted by a bad Internet connection, we couldn’t properly hear one another in the meeting.
  2. Having children disrupted the way I work and build my career.
  3. He tried to avoid any type of disruption during the meeting by having a clear agenda set.
  4. The unstable electricity in the old house disrupted any attempt to sell it.
  5. He is very focused on his work and that is to find a way to disrupt the current technology behind telecommunication.

Translation in Bahasa Melayu

  1. Mesyuarat Zoom saya terganggu akibat talian Internet yang tidak baik dan kami tidak dapat mendengar input sesama sendiri semasa mesyuarat.
  2. Kehadiran cahaya mata mengubah cara saya bekerja dan membina kerjaya,
  3. Dia mengelak sebarang kegendalaan semasa mesyuarat dengan ketegasannya mengikut agenda mesyuarat yang telah ditetapkan.
  4. Aliran elektrik yang tidak stabil di rumah itu menyukarkan usaha untuk menjualnya.
  5. Dia amat teliti dalam kerjanya iaitu untuk mencari cara untuk mengubah teknologi di sebalik telekomunikasi yang wujud kini.

Note that in the Bahasa Melayu translations, the word ‘disrupt’ is in place for a change that causes disorder or disturbance. None of the translations used the word ‘disrupt’ to indicate a sudden halt to an incident.

‘Stop Continuous Progress’ – Interrupt

  1. My Zoom meeting was interrupted by my mother asking about lunch.
  2. I interrupted the kids’ conversation at breakfast to hurry them to school.
  3. He tried to avoid any interruption from his boss during the meeting by speaking really quickly.
  4. The electricity power in the old house was interrupted a few times due to its unstable current.
  5. He is very focused on his work and works best without any interruption.

Translation in Bahasa Melayu

  1. Mesyuarat Zoom saya terhenti sebentar kerana ibu saya bertanyakan hal makan tengah hari.
  2. Saya menyampuk perbualan anak-anak semasa sarapan untuk menyegerakan mereka ke sekolah.
  3. Dia cuba mengelak dari ketuanya mencelah semasa mesyuarat dengan bercakap dengan laju.
  4. Kuasa elektrik rumah lama itu terhenti beberapa kali kerana alirannya tidak stabil.
  5. Dia sangat fokus dengan kerjanya dan produktif sekiranya tiada gangguan.

Note that in the Bahasa Melayu translations, the word ‘interrupt’ is in place for a change that causes a halt. None of the translations used the word ‘interrupt’ to indicate a change into a state of disorder.


The difference between the meaning of the words ‘disrupt’ and ‘interrupt’ shows how the change was initiated. Is it done by force (interrupt), or is it done by causing a different problem (disrupt)? Being clear on how it was done determines which word to use, ‘disrupt’ or ‘interrupt’.

I hope the explanation above with its Bahasa Melayu translation makes it easier to know how to use ‘disrupt’ and ‘interrupt’ correctly. I appreciate comments or questions shall you have any after reading this post. There are more posts like this from The Grammar Helpline Category if you want to read more posts like this (well vs good).

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Marini

    Love this tips, Baini!

    I always find myself stuck between these 2 words, end up I will choose ‘interrupted’ rather than the other one. This is very helpful guideline, I even bookmark this on my browser.

    Thanks Baini. Wish you lovely day.

    1. Baini Mustafa

      Thanks, Marini. My pleasure!

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