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A fairly horrid mouthful, but if you pick disintermediation apart you will find it is a noun based on intermediate. The concept is that of removing links from a trading chain, what is called in more colloquial language “cutting out the middleman”, or putting the producer of goods or services directly in touch with the customer. It is currently a buzzword in several fields but particularly in banking, because banks have seen much of their traditional market drift away to businesses which trade directly with the public by telephone or post. Another key area is that of insurance, where telephone-based direct traders have creamed off much of the business that used to go through local insurance brokers. Other middlemen already affected are share brokerages and travel agencies where big providers of services are using electronic communications and the Internet to bypass them and so lessen the trading distance between them and their customers, in the words of one expert “to use information to replace mobility”. The adjective and participle is disintermediated.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 16 Nov. 1996

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-dis1.htm
Last modified: 16 November 1996.