fa·​cade | \ fə-ˈsäd \
variants: or less commonly façade

Definition of facade

1 : the front of a building also : any face of a building given special architectural treatment a museum's east facade
2 : 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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Synonyms & Antonyms for facade


face, forehead, forepart, front


back, rear, rearward, reverse

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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, it’s “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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The design features a 35-foot building with an almost entirely glass facade. Emily Williams, BostonGlobe.com, "Starbucks takes shots over plan to open in the North End," 29 June 2018 But here are some of the main tasks in terms of restoring the station: First, the exterior masonry needs to be cleaned and repaired, with all the little loose bits of stone removed and the facade tuck-pointed. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Restoring Michigan Central Station will take years — and lots of money," 17 June 2018 Meanwhile, Russia experts said the Russian gun-rights group appears to mainly be a facade to build ties with the NRA. Sara Murray, CNN, "Exclusive: NRA gathers documents amid scrutiny over ties to Kremlin-linked banker," 27 Apr. 2018 Polzine installed what’s now being labeled an historic facade just four years ago. Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, "What qualifies as historic? For SF city officials, perhaps a cafe facade that’s only 4 years old.," 6 Apr. 2018 Meanwhile, state and local grants have helped downtown building owners pay for new facades and inspired a wave of renovations to historic structures. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "Franklin mainstay diner Don & Dona's is making a comeback," 19 Jan. 2018 Many facades were changed or ripped out completely in the 1960s, transforming its outward appearance. Irene North, The Seattle Times, "Scottsbluff’s Lincoln Hotel turns 100," 13 Jan. 2018 The sun was starting its descent, crowning the symmetrical facades with a halo of gold. Molly Wizenberg, Town & Country, "Vintage Bordeaux," 14 Jan. 2013 Therefore, a commercial property on the corner of two public streets would have two facades. Steve Schering, chicagotribune.com, "Oak Park approves new facade improvement program for local businesses," 11 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of facade

circa 1681, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for facade

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

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Statistics for facade

Last Updated

17 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for facade

The first known use of facade was circa 1681

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English Language Learners Definition of facade

: the front of a building

: a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation


fa·​cade | \ fə-ˈsäd \

Kids Definition of facade

: the face or front of a building

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More from Merriam-Webster on facade

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with facade

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for facade

Spanish Central: Translation of facade

Nglish: Translation of facade for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of facade for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about facade

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