fa·​cade fə-ˈsäd How to pronounce facade (audio)
variants or less commonly façade
: the front of a building
also : any face of a building given special architectural treatment
a museum's east facade
: a false, superficial, or artificial appearance or effect
tried to preserve the facade of a happy marriage

Illustration of facade

Illustration of facade
  • facade 1

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A Brief History of Facade

Facade is thought to have come to English from the Vulgar Latin facia, meaning “face.” Along the way it passed through both Italian, as faccia, and French, as façade. The earliest meaning of the word in English was in reference to the front portion of a building, its “face,” so to speak (and face itself is sometimes used to describe this part of a structure as well). Somewhere along the way facade took on a figurative sense, referring to a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation. This is similar to the figurative use of veneer, which originally had the simple meaning of a thin layer of wood that was used to cover something, and now may also refer to a sort of deceptive behavior that masks one’s actual feelings (as in, “he had a thin veneer of politeness”).

Examples of facade in a Sentence

"I mean, don't you find yourself being extra careful about what you say and how you say it? As if you have to be this phony, put on a facade, because you don't want to give them the wrong impression?" Terry McMillan, Waiting to Exhale, 1992
When I watched him in motion picture roles after the war, I knew there was something of honest substance behind that acting façade. Andrew A. Rooney, And More by Andy Rooney, (1979) 1982
… but his magic power of concentration was gone. All the façades he built up between himself and his desperate love never entirely hid it. May Sarton, Shadow of a Man, 1950
the facade of the bank the windowless façade of the skyscraper They were trying to preserve the facade of a happy marriage. I could sense the hostility lurking behind her polite facade.
Recent Examples on the Web Take in the Baroque architecture of Lecce and prepare to be overwhelmed by its exuberant facades, altarpieces, and piazzas. Elizabeth Heath, Travel + Leisure, 3 June 2024 With its striking red brick facade and Victorian Romanesque architecture, the 1890s-era Tilsner Artist Lofts in St. Paul’s Lowertown has drawn a community of creative residents, many of them seniors. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, 29 May 2024 There are some lifelines for small businesses, such as limited city facade grants and programs through nonprofits like the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative within the Denver Housing Authority. Megan Ulu-Lani Boyanton, The Denver Post, 21 May 2024 Graves County Courthouse, built in 1888, was not only the center of community activities for many decades but was also the architectural gem of Mayfield with its redbrick facade and octagonal clock tower. Rebecca Angel Baer, Southern Living, 21 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for facade 

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

Word History


borrowed from French, going back to Middle French fassade, borrowed from Italian facciata, from faccia "face" (going back to Vulgar Latin *facia) + -ata -ade — more at face entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1681, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of facade was circa 1681

Dictionary Entries Near facade

Cite this Entry

“Facade.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/facade. Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


variants also façade
: the face or front of a building
: a false or misleading appearance
a facade of wealth

More from Merriam-Webster on facade

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