de·​ceit | \di-ˈsēt \

Definition of deceit 

1 : the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid : the act or practice of deceiving : deception achieving one's goals through a web of deceit

2 : an attempt or device to deceive : trick Her excuse turned out to be a deceit.

3 : the quality of being dishonest or misleading : the quality of being deceitful : deceitfulness … far from deceit or guile.— John Milton

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Examples of deceit in a Sentence

a rise to power that was marked by treachery and deceit she's completely free of deceit

Recent Examples on the Web

To pull off such a deceit, the beetle larvae need to coordinate to produce enough pheromones to lure in a bee. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "How Horror Beetles Hitchhike on Bees And Then Eat Their Young," 12 Sep. 2018 The plots of love and deceit get pretty Shakespearean, for better and worse. Meredith Goldstein,, "‘Love, Simon’ says a lot, and it’s all good," 15 Mar. 2018 These complications pale in comparison to the fact that deceit is woven into the fabric of the game. Alejandro Chacoff, The Atlantic, "Soccer Has No Interest in Fairness," 12 July 2018 Neymar’s flopping is just the most obvious form of deceit. Alejandro Chacoff, The Atlantic, "Soccer Has No Interest in Fairness," 12 July 2018 On a deeper level, however, the issue is how best to effect social and political change when those in power ignore the needs of the powerless and defend their actions with a bodyguard of lies and deceit. Michael Hiltzik,, "Martin Luther King Jr. had a few words to say about calls for 'civility'," 26 June 2018 In many areas, Byford thought, N.Y.C. Transit had an old-fashioned, coercive attitude toward its employees, which encouraged deceit and excessive caution. William Finnegan, The New Yorker, "Can Andy Byford Save the Subways?," 2 July 2018 The list of high-profile people Holmes managed to hoodwink is almost as eye-popping as her deceits. Julia Belluz, Vox, "How Silicon Valley got played by Theranos," 15 June 2018 Holtcamp's interpretation draws well on that idea, especially when so many characters engage in deceit and lies. Theodore P. Mahne,, "Shakespeare Fest's 'All's Well' a rare, but frustrating comedy," 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deceit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of deceit

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for deceit

Middle English deceite, from Anglo-French, from Latin decepta, feminine of deceptus, past participle of decipere — see deceive

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Statistics for deceit

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for deceit

The first known use of deceit was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for deceit



English Language Learners Definition of deceit

: dishonest behavior : behavior that is meant to fool or trick someone


de·​ceit | \di-ˈsēt \

Kids Definition of deceit

1 : the act or practice of making someone believe something that is not true : deception The villain used deceit to further his evil plan.

2 : a statement or act that is meant to fool or trick someone We saw through her deceit.

3 : the quality of being dishonest



Legal Definition of deceit 

: deliberate and misleading concealment, false declaration, or artifice : deception theft by deceit also : the tort of committing or carrying out deceit an action for deceit — see also fraud, misrepresentation

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Comments on deceit

What made you want to look up deceit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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