de·​ceive | \ di-ˈsēv How to pronounce deceive (audio) \
deceived; deceiving

Definition of deceive

transitive verb

1 : to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid deceiving customers about the condition of the cars bluffing at poker in order to deceive the other players
2 archaic : ensnare … he it was whose guile … deceived the mother of mankind …— John Milton
3a obsolete : to be false to You have deceived our trust …— Shakespeare
b archaic : to fail to fulfill … nor are my hopes deceived.— John Dryden
4 archaic : to while away These occupations oftentimes deceived the listless hour …— William Wordsworth
5 obsolete : cheat deceived me of a good sum of money …— William Oldys

intransitive verb

: to make someone believe something that is not true : to practice deceit also : to give a false impression appearances can deceive

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Other Words from deceive

deceiver noun
deceivingly \ di-​ˈsē-​viŋ-​lē How to pronounce deceive (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for deceive

deceive, mislead, delude, beguile mean to lead astray or frustrate usually by underhandedness. deceive implies imposing a false idea or belief that causes ignorance, bewilderment, or helplessness. tried to deceive me about the cost mislead implies a leading astray that may or may not be intentional. I was misled by the confusing sign delude implies deceiving so thoroughly as to obscure the truth. we were deluded into thinking we were safe beguile stresses the use of charm and persuasion in deceiving. was beguiled by false promises

Examples of deceive in a Sentence

Her parents punished her for trying to deceive them. He was accused of deceiving the customer about the condition of the car. People who think they can eat whatever they want without harming their health are deceiving themselves. Remember that appearances can deceive—just because something looks good doesn't mean it is good.
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Recent Examples on the Web Deepfakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate audio content to deceive. Dominic David, Forbes, "Analyzing The Rise Of Deepfake Voice Technology," 10 May 2021 Scammers sometimes set up fake customer service numbers to deceive people and take their personal information. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, "Elegant Ice Creations gets creative with drive-thru ice sculpture garden: Talk of the Towns," 11 Feb. 2021 On Wednesday, federal authorities arrested Waithe, 28, and charged him with cyberstalking and wire fraud in connection with the scheme to deceive students into sending him nude and seminude pictures of themselves. Washington Post, "College track coach stole explicit photos from female athletes’ phones, prosecutors say," 8 Apr. 2021 Watch for any ads or content that may deceive or mislead users toward harmful sites. Yec, Forbes, "2021 Google Algorithm Update: Double Down On Website User Experience," 17 Mar. 2021 Like all things digital, dark patterns have no geographic or physical limitations, and consequently, can deceive people on a far greater scale. Eric Reicin, Forbes, "Understanding Dark Patterns: How To Stay Out Of The Gray Areas," 19 Apr. 2021 However, simply adjusting your tech or TV or habits can deceive you into relaxing. Katie Intner, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Expert Guide To Finally Getting a Good Night's Sleep," 9 Apr. 2021 Potential partners sometimes deceive each other, in ways both trivial and significant. Karen Levy, Star Tribune, "The dating game: You had me at 'clean record'," 1 Apr. 2021 Do my eyes deceive me or is that our Callie Adams Foster … having fun? Maggie Fremont, Vulture, "Good Trouble Recap: New Moon, New You," 31 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deceive.' 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 deceive

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

History and Etymology for deceive

Middle English, from Anglo-French deceivre, from Latin decipere, from de- + capere to take — more at heave entry 1

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Time Traveler for deceive

Time Traveler

The first known use of deceive was in the 13th century

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Statistics for deceive

Last Updated

17 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Deceive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for deceive



English Language Learners Definition of deceive

: to make (someone) believe something that is not true


de·​ceive | \ di-ˈsēv How to pronounce deceive (audio) \
deceived; deceiving

Kids Definition of deceive

1 : to cause to believe what is not true : mislead His lies deceived me.
2 : to be dishonest and misleading Appearances can deceive.


deceived; deceiving

Legal Definition of deceive

transitive verb

: to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid

intransitive verb

: to practice deceit — compare defraud, mislead

Comments on deceive

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