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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web But on this occasion, Mr Li’s comments unflattered to deceive. The Economist, "Clarifying the battle lines China’s poverty line is not as stingy as commentators think," 20 June 2020 Walmart ends policy of locking up products for black customers These telemarketers faked the number their calls displayed in caller ID with intent to deceive consumers in early 2019, the FCC said. CBS News, "They made 1 billion robocalls and now face a record government fine," 10 June 2020 Yet the Times ignored the major corporate owners to focus on me, a clear indication of their intent to deceive their readers. Michael Milken, WSJ, "No One Is Safe From Biased Reporting," 30 Jan. 2020 In 2017, according to, Wyatt pleaded guilty to 20 counts of fraud by false representation, two counts of blackmail, and one count of possession of an identity document with intent to deceive (a false passport). Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Dark Overlord taunted, threatened, and extorted. Now alleged member is behind bars," 19 Dec. 2019 The Pentagon late Monday issued a statement in response to The Washington Post report, saying there had been no intent to deceive Congress or the public. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky politicians call for debate on US role in war after 'Afghanistan Papers' report," 10 Dec. 2019 In his deposition, Sackler denied there was any attempt to deceive doctors. Casey Ross, STAT, "Purdue’s Richard Sackler proposed plan to play down OxyContin risks, and wanted drug maker feared ‘like a tiger,’ files show," 2 Dec. 2019 They felt deceived, and a handful fought to get their money back by filing complaints with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and review websites like Ripoff Report. Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "A precious-metals scheme used fear and Facebook to trick older conservatives out of their savings," 18 Nov. 2019 The Emerald casino debacle nearly two decades ago stands as the worst-case scenario of what can go wrong in a state long plagued by corruption: a swirl of insider dealing, mob influence and attempts to deceive state regulators. David Heinzmann,, "Amid scandal, Illinois Gaming Board blocks video gambling owners from selling their companies without state approval," 7 Nov. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about deceive

Time Traveler for deceive

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for deceive

Last Updated

21 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Deceive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for deceive


How to pronounce deceive (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on deceive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deceive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!