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”).

Example Sentences

"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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Her scenes with such co-stars as Charlie Vickers (Halbrand) and Lloyd Owen (Captain Elendil) crackle with chemistry and bit by bit complicate Galadriel’s stony facade with flickers of amusement, humility and heartbreak. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Nov. 2022 The main building’s facade collapsed, according to a 3:20 p.m. incident update, but firefighters had established a 30-foot collapse zone and no injuries were reported in the collapse. Gregory Yeestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2022 Fire-Rescue Lt. Robert Borse in a memo sent to the mayor and City Council members last week said structural degradation was found at Fire Station 11 in the Oak Lawn area, including with the building’s facade. Dallas News, 20 Sep. 2022 That same year, Gauguin’s drawings of Polynesian women and girls were animated and projected onto the facade of the Grand Palais, in Paris, beaming out to passers-by. Ella Fox-martens, The Atlantic, 3 Sep. 2022 The building’s facade uses warm LED lighting to highlight its sculptural design. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 21 July 2022 The tall building’s facade is covered by a mural of a woman wearing a lovely blue dress and hat. Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2022 The entire new building, designed by Handel Architects with conceptual design by Bjarke Ingels Group, creates a bold impression, with its geometric white concrete facade on the flatiron corner of Market and Turk streets. Caleb Pershan, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 Dec. 2022 Beyond its modern, architectural facade, the six-acre property comes with various amenities and structures designed for year-round use. Emma Reynolds, Robb Report, 20 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'facade.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 31 Jan. 2023.

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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