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

Example Sentences

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 Pitt is an ex-con whose face is covered in prison tattoos, but appearances can deceive. Pat Padua, Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2022 Against Hollywood’s politricks, here are the best films so far this year: Ambulance — Some movies deceive us through excitement and fun, but Michael Bay uses the action genre as a poetic vision of contemporary American disunity. Armond White, National Review, 8 July 2022 In particular, the hints of acacia and elderberry deceive the taster who expects a wine with a sugary residue which is instead a dry wine. John Mariani, Forbes, 16 May 2022 But don’t let their good looks deceive you — these shock-absorbing boots were engineered to withstand rough outdoor conditions. Cai Cramer, Peoplemag, 24 Oct. 2022 Mohammad Khatami and Hassan Rouhani were smiling frontmen for a brutal regime trying to deceive the international community. Joe Lieberman, WSJ, 10 Aug. 2022 Sophisticated hackers have ways to deceive AI by manipulating code. Yuen Pin Yeap, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 Conricus said Israeli troops were in fact trying to deceive Hamas, so its fighters would go into its vast network of underground tunnels. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, 16 May 2021 Appearances, though, are calculated to deceive, and Burt and Harold soon happen upon a hideous—yet unmistakably daft—conspiracy to inject Fascism into the American bloodstream. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 28 Nov. 2022.

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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