de·​face | \ di-ˈfās, 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 \ -​ˈfās-​mənt \ 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

Three people face misdemeanor charges of rioting and defacing a public monument. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "Texts show police told to ‘not engage’ with 'Silent Sam' protesters: report," 30 Aug. 2018 Maya Little, who defaced a Confederate soldier statue in May on the University of North Carolina’s campus, said. Christopher Carbone, Fox News, "Confederate monuments: This 124-year-old women's group is fighting to keep them around," 12 Aug. 2018 It was meant as an act of defiance, according to Fred Whitehead, a local historian who had the displeasure of discovering the statue defaced on Sunday. kansascity, "Vandals may have defaced John Brown statue, but they can’t scar Quindaro’s significance," 19 Mar. 2018 In October, a Hawaii man reportedly was charged with criminal mischief for defacing four golf courses owned by the Trump Organization, by allegedly carving messages into the greens. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Anti-Trump vandalism sweeps country: Yacht, Hollywood star latest targets," 9 Aug. 2018 The Texas statute prohibits anyone from stealing, defacing or destroying any campaign sign on private property. Fox News, "Protester filmed screaming 'I hate Ted Cruz,' tearing up signs in Houston neighborhood," 18 Oct. 2018 Elsewhere, billboards showing the presidential couple have been torn down and defaced. Eric Mosinger, Washington Post, "In massive street protests, Nicaraguans are using Ortega’s revolutionary symbols against him," 14 May 2018 Over the next few days, police learned Bell and Harris had defaced five other buildings in the French Quarter. Marie Simoneaux,, "2 men accused of defacing 9 historic French Quarter buildings: NOPD," 4 Apr. 2018 And Lizzie Clachan’s sterile white set, which will be thoroughly defaced by the end, and David McSeveney’s dissonant sound design, which finds the ominous in everyday noises, suggest that Eric’s mind is a terrible place to live. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Stephen Rea Is One Really Mad Man in ‘Cyprus Avenue’," 25 June 2018

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

22 Jan 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 \
defaced; defacing

Kids Definition of deface

: to damage the face or surface of Vandals defaced the statue.
de·​face | \ di-ˈfās \
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 settle judicially or to act as judge

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