des·​e·​crate ˈde-si-ˌkrāt How to pronounce desecrate (audio)
desecrated; desecrating

transitive verb

: to violate the sanctity of : profane
desecrate a shrine
a cemetery desecrated by vandals
: to treat disrespectfully, irreverently, or outrageously
… the kind of shore development … that has desecrated so many waterfronts …John Fischer
desecrater noun
or desecrator

Examples of desecrate in a Sentence

The vandals were accused of desecrating graves. vandals desecrated the cemetery last night by covering the tombstones with graffiti
Recent Examples on the Web Controversy surfaced late last year when the Navajo Nation decried a commercial mission for carrying human remains, arguing that such deposits on the moon would desecrate sacred space. Sarah Matusek, The Christian Science Monitor, 31 Jan. 2024 Late last December, the Navajo Nation requested that U.S. officials delay Peregrine’s launch amid concerns that landing the remains would desecrate the moon, which the Diné (the Navajo people) consider sacred. Michael Greshko, Scientific American, 9 Jan. 2024 But extraction efforts in other parts of the country — such as Nevada’s Thacker Pass and Utah’s Great Salt Lake — have faced pushback from conservation activists and Native American tribes over their potential to destroy wildlife habitat, gobble up scarce water and desecrate sacred sites. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 28 Nov. 2023 By the time Elgin’s men arrived, the Parthenon had been occupied, desecrated and burned. William Booth, Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2023 At issue is a proposal by one Indigenous group to expand and relocate its casino and whether the flashy new gambling hall, hotel and entertainment center would honor — or desecrate — the past. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 19 Oct. 2023 The account is partially funded by fines for desecrating burial grounds, including for the first time, restitution to cover collecting, cleaning and reburying remains illegally taken, just as other remains before them had been for centuries. John O'Connor and Melissa Perez Winder, Chicago Tribune, 18 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'desecrate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


de- + -secrate (as in consecrate)

First Known Use

1675, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of desecrate was in 1675

Dictionary Entries Near desecrate

Cite this Entry

“Desecrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


des·​e·​crate ˈdes-i-ˌkrāt How to pronounce desecrate (audio)
desecrated; desecrating
: to treat a sacred place or sacred object shamefully or with great disrespect
desecrater noun
or desecrator

More from Merriam-Webster on desecrate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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