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 deceivingly (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

Attendance is another way to measure the pulse of fans, but a cursory look at the numbers can sometimes be deceiving. Joey Morona,, "Your interest in the Indians is sky-high and you’re starting to show it with your dollars," 16 Aug. 2019 Sometimes Lewis argues that this mistrust is justified, as in the case of a woman in the second episode who was deceived by the company who handled her student loans. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "The 10 Best New Podcasts of the Year So Far," 21 June 2019 If Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello’s four-seam fastball looked anything but fast Monday, your eyes did not deceive you. Nick Kelly,, "There’s not as much steam on Rick Porcello’s four-seam fastball," 16 July 2019 The company deceived prescribers and patients about its drugs. WSJ, "States Are Right to Pursue Big Opioid Maker," 19 June 2019 Your eyes are not deceiving you: that is momager Kris Jenner, not her 21-year-old daughter Kylie, on the Met Gala 2019 red carpet. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner Made Her Mom Kris Go Blonde on the Met Gala Red Carpet," 6 May 2019 Amoruso is the first to admit that appearances can be deceiving. Lindzi Scharf,, "Sophia Amoruso, L.A.’s millennial ‘Girlboss,’ is busy with her second act," 3 July 2019 And while longtime city residents may claim to know the difference, sounds can be deceiving. Bianca Sanchez,, "Gunshots or fireworks? How to tell the difference," 3 July 2019 Do not be deceived by Woodland’s winning score of 13-under-par, the third-lowest ever in relation to par behind Rory McIlroy in 2011 and Koepka in 2017 (each won at 16-under). Ron Kroichick,, "Pebble Beach more than holds its own in latest spin as U.S. Open host," 17 June 2019

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

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Statistics for deceive

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deceive

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on deceive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with deceive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deceive

Spanish Central: Translation of deceive

Nglish: Translation of deceive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deceive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on deceive

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


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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