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

Definition of desecrate

transitive verb

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

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Other Words from desecrate

desecrater or desecrator \ ˈde-​si-​ˌkrā-​tər How to pronounce desecrator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for desecrate


defile, profane, violate

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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

Native Hawaiian protesters and other opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope say they are concerned that construction will desecrate and damage the mountain. Time, "Hawaiian Elders Arrested at Telescope Protests," 18 July 2019 In 1989, Temple Emanu-El was desecrated with swastikas and hate speech, causing townwide outrage. Abigail Feldman,, "Anti-Semitic fliers discovered at Marblehead synagogue," 15 July 2019 Beaumont police are searching for vandals who desecrated a local cemetery, causing damage to tombs and even dragging out a coffin. Danny Hermosillo, Houston Chronicle, "Vandals desecrate Beaumont cemetery, damage casket and tombs," 15 July 2019 Many of its windows had been shattered and its treasures ripped out or desecrated. National Geographic, "An 800-year history of Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral," 15 Apr. 2019 Since then the Parisians have adored it, neglected it, damaged it and desecrated it, restored and venerated it, depending on the social passions and fashions of the times. Bruce Dale, National Geographic, "Adored, neglected, and restored: A 1968 Nat Geo feature explored Notre Dame," 17 Apr. 2019 The bodies of the protesters that Caesar saw that day had been desecrated by soldiers, though the dead did have names. Susie Linfield, The New York Review of Books, "Syria’s Torture Photos: Witness to Atrocity," 9 Feb. 2019 The lawsuit says the construction of the Wetumpka casino desecrated a site called Hickory Ground, the last tribal capital for the Muskogee Nation before its people were forced to leave their homeland on the Trail of Tears in the early 1830s. Mike Cason |,, "Muscogee Nation renews lawsuit against Poarch Creeks over Alabama casino," 5 June 2019 In April, after Mr. Paludan again desecrated a Quran, protests against him erupted into widespread violence in Copenhagen, with the police making more than 20 arrests. Martin Selsoe Sorensen, New York Times, "Denmark Election Is Fueled by Anger on Climate and Immigration," 4 June 2019

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

1675, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for desecrate

de- + -secrate (as in consecrate)

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Statistics for desecrate

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for desecrate

The first known use of desecrate was in 1675

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More Definitions for desecrate



English Language Learners Definition of desecrate

: to damage (a holy place or object) : to treat (a holy place or object) with disrespect


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

Kids Definition of desecrate

: to treat a sacred place or sacred object shamefully or with great disrespect

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Comments on desecrate

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


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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