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 Bella Hadid kicked off 25 in style, rocking an all-black ensemble on the streets of New York, her hair in voluminous waves with…do our eyes deceive us, or are those side bangs? Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, 12 Oct. 2021 The original Captcha puzzles were an attempt to deceive them — not the humans. New York Times, 23 Aug. 2021 Shalash occasionally used the alias Armand Brigante of MDDI Inc. as part of his scheme to deceive buyers, officials said. Quinlan Bentley, The Enquirer, 2 Oct. 2021 When marketing crosses the line into mendacity, the world suffers for it; businesses that deceive investors, customers, even their own employees, direct attention, energy, and effort away from more valuable pursuits. Declan Harty, Fortune, 1 Oct. 2021 Ozy Media has lost advertisers, one of its top journalists and the chairman of its board following a series of reports accusing the company of going to great lengths to deceive advertisers, investors and the public. Jemima Mcevoy, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 Some posts make the claim that the plane is a prop and compare it to footage of U.S soldiers tipping over inflatable tanks and trucks that were designed to deceive the Germans during World War II. Chiara Vercellone, USA TODAY, 21 Aug. 2021 Impersonation is pretending to be another entity in order to deceive, and is strictly prohibited. Joseph Goodman |, al, 19 Aug. 2021 The goal: to deceive doctors and their patients into believing the painkiller wasn’t addictive. Jeanne Jakle, San Antonio Express-News, 22 Sep. 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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Learn More About deceive

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

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Deceive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on deceive

Nglish: Translation of deceive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deceive for Arabic Speakers


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