graf·​fi·​ti | \ grə-ˈfē-(ˌ)tē How to pronounce graffiti (audio) , gra-, grä- \

Definition of graffiti

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: usually unauthorized writing or drawing on a public surface


graffitied; graffitiing\ grə-​ˈfē-​(ˌ)tē-​iŋ How to pronounce graffiti (audio) , gra-​ , grä-​ \ also graffiting\ grə-​ˈfē-​tiŋ How to pronounce graffiti (audio) , gra-​ , grä-​ \

Definition of graffiti (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to draw graffiti on : to deface with graffiti graffitied walls

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Is graffiti singular or plural?: Usage Guide


Graffiti, which also serves as the plural of graffito, is commonly used as a singular mass noun. graffiti … was depressing people who rode the subways New Yorker graffiti comes in various styles — S. K. Oberbeck This use is well established although not yet as well established as the mass-noun use of data. Use of graffiti as a singular count noun is still quite rare and is not standard.

Examples of graffiti in a Sentence

Noun The walls of the old building are covered with graffiti.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The graffiti was a confusing mix of ideologies — swastikas and White power alongside Black Lives Matter and the name of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Kristina Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Hate crimes surge during presidential elections. So far 2020 isn’t any different," 31 Oct. 2020 The store planned to hire a cleaning company to erase the graffiti. cleveland, "Woman loses over $8,000 in warrant scam: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 18 Mar. 2021 By the time his first customer arrived to pick up her food, Nguyen, bucket and sponge in hand, was just beginning to scrub the graffiti on the patio tables. Washington Post, "An Asian American chef slammed Texas for lifting its mask mandate. Then racist graffiti hit his shop.," 15 Mar. 2021 Activists later strove to reclaim the Confederate symbol by plastering its base with brightly colored graffiti and projecting images of victims of police brutality onto its pedestal. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Statue of Civil Rights Activist Barbara Rose Johns Will Replace U.S. Capitol’s Likeness of Robert E. Lee," 23 Dec. 2020 In 2017, the synagogue was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti on the first day of the Jewish High Holy Days. Lauren Hernández,, "Man charged in swastika vandalism of Oakland synagogue, charged with hate crime," 22 Oct. 2020 No one had taken credit for the graffiti as of Friday afternoon. Nora Mishanec, San Francisco Chronicle, "An S.F. bar parklet was vandalized with message about homelessness. The bar's owners had a surprising reply," 26 Feb. 2021 Researchers first noted the existence of the strange graffiti in 1904, when The Scream was exhibited in Copenhagen. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Who Scribbled This Cryptic Graffiti on ‘The Scream’?," 24 Feb. 2021 When museums closed, Barcelona got creative himself, finding his art not in galleries but on the street, in the abstract graffiti on the side of an auto-body shop, perhaps, or in the Chicken Bucket Modern architecture style of his local KFC. Los Angeles Times, "Need uplift this holiday? Give thanks for these rare happy stories from the pandemic," 26 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The announcement follows a weekend of protests in the United Kingdom, where on June 7, protesters tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol and graffitied a statue of Sir Winston Churchill in London. Mélissa Godin, Time, "London Mayor Says City’s Landmarks Linked To Slavery 'Should Be Taken Down'," 9 June 2020 What parts of the dining room walls that aren’t obscured by supplies are graffitied with well wishes in English, Spanish and Mandarin, and taped with paper bills like a neighborhood bar. Amy Scattergood, Los Angeles Times, "This couple turned their taqueria into a food bank," 8 May 2020 In under a hundred years, Florence’s equivalent of a New York minute, the majority were bordered up, graffitied over, repurposed into doorbell posts, or completely covered. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "Florence's Newest Outdoor Drinking Trend Is Also Its Oldest," 21 Jan. 2020 There have been at least 12 episodes since Nov. 6, including anti-Asian and anti-black slurs graffitied in residence halls and a swastika in a snow bank near an apartment complex where students live. Doha Madani, NBC News, "Anti-Semitic threat sent to Syracuse staff, chancellor vows action on 'hateful incidents'," 20 Nov. 2019 Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times More than 2,500 police officers patrol New York City’s subway, where crime is down sharply from the era of rampant violence and graffiti three decades ago. New York Times, "The Subway Is in Financial Crisis. Are 500 More Police Officers Needed?," 5 Nov. 2019 Fernandez was proposing to have graffiti-like murals on each of the six panels on the transportation center, with panels representing Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena. Anthony Clark Carpio, Burbank Leader, "Hollywood Burbank Airport officials continue to seek art for transportation center," 27 Aug. 2019 Situated in a lay-by on the A487, just north of Llanrhystud, about half-way up the west coast of Wales, its importance derives from two words graffitied on it by Meic Stephens, a journalist and activist, in the 1960s: Cofiwch Dryweryn. The Economist, "An act of vandalism sparks more talk of independence in Wales," 22 Aug. 2019 My current paralysis seemed to have begun with a three-word question graffitied all over my neighborhood. Catherine Lacey, Harper's magazine, "Who Is She?," 19 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'graffiti.' 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 graffiti


1945, in the meaning defined above


1964, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for graffiti

Noun and Verb

Italian, plural of graffito

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Time Traveler for graffiti

Time Traveler

The first known use of graffiti was in 1945

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Statistics for graffiti

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Graffiti.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for graffiti



English Language Learners Definition of graffiti

: pictures or words painted or drawn on a wall, building, etc.


graf·​fi·​ti | \ grə-ˈfē-tē How to pronounce graffiti (audio) \

Kids Definition of graffiti

: writing or drawing made on a public structure without permission

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