fa·​cade | \ fə-ˈsäd How to pronounce facade (audio) \
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



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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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web A hundred years later, remnants of the blast can still be seen in the form of shrapnel marks on the facade of J.P. Morgan's old building. Jeff Glor, CBS News, "New York's deadliest terror attack before 9/11 happened 100 years ago. No one was ever convicted.," 12 Sep. 2020 In place of the Dream Lights, Cinderella Castle will be decorated each evening through the magic of projection technology, splashing colorful animation on the castle facade. Valerie Marino, Condé Nast Traveler, "Disney World's Christmas Season Will Look Very Different This Year," 11 Sep. 2020 Rankine also began exploring the ways in which whiteness conceals itself behind the facade of an unraced universal identity. Ismail Muhammad, The Atlantic, "Claudia Rankine’s Quest for Racial Dialogue," 4 Sep. 2020 Local preservationists, including the Conservation Society of San Antonio, have said the 1883 Crockett Building and the facade of the 1921 Woolworth Building must be kept intact as part of the new museum. Scott Huddleston, ExpressNews.com, "New rendering shows vision for Alamo Plaza makeover," 25 Aug. 2020 First, bartender Justin Rutland, in his free time, spray painted a colorful carpet of flowers across the side facade of the restaurant. Diane Bell Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Lemon Grove bartender moonlights as pandemic artist," 29 Aug. 2020 The bright orange awning that characterizes the facade of Kingston Mines is also missing. Lauren Leazenby, chicagotribune.com, "After COVID-19 had Kingston Mines singing the blues, the family takes steps to reopen," 24 Aug. 2020 The facade of his house in Minsk was splashed with red paint overnight. Yuras Karmanau, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘People need to get the truth’: Reporters join strike in Belarus," 20 Aug. 2020 Then the president's boosters bash news outlets like The AP for tearing down the facade of his Potemkin Village. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Stelter: Trump has taken up residence at his own Potemkin Village," 10 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for facade

Time Traveler

The first known use of facade was circa 1681

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Statistics for facade

Last Updated

19 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Facade.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/facade. Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for facade


How to pronounce facade (audio)

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 How to pronounce facade (audio) \

Kids Definition of facade

: the face or front of a building

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