Surface structure controls the physical and chemical response of materials. Surface polar terminations are appealing because of their unusual properties but they are intrinsically unstable. Several mechanisms, namely metallization, adsorption, and ordered reconstructions, can remove thermodynamic penalties rendering polar surfaces partially stable. Here, for CeO2(100), we report a complementary stabilization mechanism based on surface disorder that has been unravelled through theoretical simulations that: account for surface energies and configurational entropies; show the importance of the ion distribution degeneracy; and identify low diffusion barriers between conformations that ensure equilibration. Disordered configurations in oxides might also be further stabilized by preferential adsorption of water. The entropic stabilization term will appear for surfaces with a high number of empty sites, typically achieved when removing part of the ions in a polar termination to make the layer charge zero. Assessing the impact of surface disorder when establishing new structure–activity relationships remains a challenge.