deceive

verb

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

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
3
a
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
deceiver noun
deceivingly 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.
Recent Examples on the Web There are ethical considerations of deceiving a jury and the audience, of course. Allison Parshall, Scientific American, 19 June 2024 By Vanessa Armstrong Our brains are wired to be deceived. Vanessa Armstrong, The Atlantic, 17 June 2024 Last fall, Iowa’s attorney general sued two proprietors responsible for the mailings in her state, naming a Minnesota man who hosts a Christian entrepreneurship podcast and his Florida business partner for allegedly deceiving consumers, many of them elderly. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune, 15 June 2024 West could afford to deceive his partner in this deal. Frank Stewart, The Mercury News, 15 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for deceive 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deceive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near deceive

Cite this Entry

“Deceive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deceive. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

deceive

verb
de·​ceive di-ˈsēv How to pronounce deceive (audio)
deceived; deceiving
1
: to cause to believe what is untrue : mislead
deceived the customer about the condition of the car
2
: to use or practice deceit
deceiver noun
deceivingly adverb

Legal Definition

deceive

verb
de·​ceive
deceived; deceiving

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to practice deceit compare defraud, mislead

More from Merriam-Webster on deceive

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