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 For years after taking power, Xi was able to project a facade of normality internationally even as authoritarianism was on the rise back home. James Griffiths, CNN, "Contrast couldn't be greater between Trump and Xi at the UN, but Chinese leader is the true authoritarian," 23 Sep. 2020 Designed by Kirksey Architecture with a glass facade to take advantage of views of the adjacent West Lake Park, the building is envisioned as the signature architectural centerpiece of Redemption Square. Savannah Mehrtens, Houston Chronicle, "100,000 square foot medical facility planned near Summerwood at Generation Park," 11 Sep. 2020 After all, anyone can keep up a facade during a workday, but putting on and keeping your professional face with no buffer, all day every day, is a different thing entirely. Mary Cadden, USA TODAY, "Review: Ruth Ware brings chills with isolated locked door mystery 'One by One'," 9 Sep. 2020 Associate Editor Jay Cork spent several days trying to rebuff the aluminum exterior into a mirror-like facade, without success. Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune, "Minnesotans remodel their vintage camper trailers just in time for the pandemic," 28 Aug. 2020 The Long Barrack was covered with a wooden facade as part of a grocery and liquor store in the 1870s, in the plaza’s early commercial era. Scott Huddleston, ExpressNews.com, "Fans of Alamo happy to walk its grounds again, but some fear long-planned renovation of plaza may falter," 21 Aug. 2020 The home that served as the facade for the comedy's first two seasons and inspired the set that took over from season 3 and onward is located in a quiet, residential street in Brentwood, California. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "Golden Girls house sells for $4 million after bidding war," 17 Aug. 2020 Intrigued, Stanley had a contractor peel away the facade and discovered a marble plaque that read Douglass Place. Washington Post, "A Baltimore house once owned by Frederick Douglass has become a history lesson," 17 Aug. 2020 The hotel, which features reclaimed oak barn wood floors and a limestone facade, was first built as a school in 1889 and named for America’s first president. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "This Historic School in Park City, Utah, Is Now a Boutique Hotel — and You Can Buy out the Entire Thing for $30k a Night," 1 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

13 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

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