de·​face | \ di-ˈfās How to pronounce deface (audio) , dē-\
defaced; defacing; defaces

Definition of deface

transitive verb

1 : to mar the appearance of : injure by effacing significant details deface an inscription
2 : impair
3 obsolete : destroy

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Other Words from deface

defacement \ di-​ˈfās-​mənt How to pronounce defacement (audio) , dē-​ \ noun
defacer noun

Synonyms for deface


trash, vandalize

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Examples of deface in a Sentence

The building was defaced with graffiti. He was fined for defacing public property.

Recent Examples on the Web

Protesters have defaced the national emblem at the central government’s liaison office, and over the past weekend, threw a Chinese national flag into the harbor. Time Staff, Time, "Hong Kongers Go on Strike to Support the 'Revolution of Our Time'," 5 Aug. 2019 Several locations at Centennial Park on the 6800 block of McCormick Boulevard were reported to have been defaced with graffiti on July 21, police said. Daniel I. Dorfman,, "Police: Tire slashed on 2019 Toyota Highlander," 30 July 2019 Several weeks ago, the Houston mayoral candidate said that several of his campaign posters had been defaced with swastikas. Peter Dawson, Houston Chronicle, "Mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee doubles reward for vandals painting swastikas on his campaign signs," 24 July 2019 Members of Hitler’s party defaced the entrances to Jewish shops and then rallied in the town square. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Weaponization of National Belonging, from Nazi Germany to Trump," 21 July 2019 Earlier that year, another man suspected of defacing an MS-13 graffiti tag was abducted and dragged into Angeles National Forest. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, "An ultra-violent MS-13 gang entered the U.S., then stalked L.A. with blades and bats," 16 July 2019 The gun’s identifying markers--such as the serial number and model--were defaced, police said. Josh Coe,, "Boston police arrest two men, seize guns, within two hours," 13 July 2019 The group allegedly defaced the city property just after midnight Tuesday. Chevaz Clarke, CBS News, "Chicago's iconic "Bean" sculpture vandalized," 2 July 2019 The group has advocated peaceful protest, though others have adopted more confrontational tactics such as defacing police headquarters and shuttering government offices. Natasha Khan, WSJ, "Hong Kong Protesters Urge Foreign Governments to Confront Beijing at G-20 Summit," 26 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deface.' 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 deface

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for deface

Middle English, from Anglo-French *desfacer, *deffacer, from des- de- + face front, face

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Statistics for deface

Last Updated

20 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for deface

The first known use of deface was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for deface



English Language Learners Definition of deface

: to ruin the surface of (something) especially with writing or pictures


de·​face | \ di-ˈfās How to pronounce deface (audio) \
defaced; defacing

Kids Definition of deface

: to damage the face or surface of Vandals defaced the statue.
de·​face | \ di-ˈfās How to pronounce deface (audio) \
defaced; defacing

Legal Definition of deface

: to destroy or mar the face or surface of

Other Words from deface

defacement noun
defacer noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on deface

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with deface

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deface

Spanish Central: Translation of deface

Nglish: Translation of deface for Spanish Speakers

Comments on deface

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


to make or get by devious means

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