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

Definition of graffiti

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

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



Definition of graffiti (Entry 2 of 2)

: usually unauthorized writing or drawing on a public surface

Keep scrolling for more

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: Verb 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 Black and red spray paint was used to graffiti the church sign and several sides of the church and storehouse, according to Brown. Mary Grace Keller,, "After Marriottsville church vandalized with swastikas and ‘racist’ graffiti, community bands together," 30 July 2019 The profanity was graffitied on the base of the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue in white paint, TV station WVIR reported. USA TODAY, "Big butter sculpture, sweet guitar, owl released: News from around our 50 states," 24 July 2019 Since then, poor twelve-foot bronze Harry has been guillotined, graffitied, painted, bombed, and toppled, according to the current anti-American gripe of the day. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Cowardly Incoherence of Name-Changing, Statue-Toppling, and other Iconoclasms," 25 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The category covers a broad range of unruly behavior, including burglary, assault, arson, graffiti or vandalism, rape, theft, robbery, burglary or mental health issues. Rachel Swan,, "Crime on Muni drops by half, as agency beefs up security and makes key hire," 27 Nov. 2019 The 60-ton rock had been a popular spot for graffiti. USA TODAY, "Poultry pardons, synthetic frogs, Freedom Rocks: News from around our 50 states," 26 Nov. 2019 Portland police are patrolling a Northeast neighborhood high school Thursday after administrators found threatening graffiti scrawled on a bathroom wall that featured an image of a knife. oregonlive, "Threatening bathroom message at Portland high school prompts police patrols," 21 Nov. 2019 On November 13, the Orange reported that more racist graffiti targeting Asians was found in the physics building, prompting a DPS bias investigation. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "#NotAgainSU Sit-In Protest Demands Action After Racist Incident Spree at Syracuse University," 20 Nov. 2019 Earlier this month, students at Salisbury University in Maryland called for more security after offensive graffiti was found repeatedly inside a campus building. Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "UW-Eau Claire suspends five football players for racist Snapchat conversation that used KKK image," 20 Nov. 2019 A day after school officials announced a school-wide suspension of all fraternity activities because of an allegedly racist incident, more racist graffiti was discovered at Syracuse University on Monday. Tim Stelloh, NBC News, "More racist graffiti found at Syracuse University, school says," 19 Nov. 2019 Across the city, protest graffiti also regularly allude to Xinjiang, at times naming specific Uyghur intellectuals detained in China. Mary Hui, Quartz, "The language used to justify Xinjiang’s camps is being echoed in Hong Kong," 18 Nov. 2019 Take Carson McCalley, who sent cameras flashing in a leather motorcycle jacket splashed with Keith Haring–inspired graffiti—a touching tribute to the artist and gay rights activist who became victim to the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Vogue, "Timothée Chalamet, Sarah Jessica Parker, Uma Thurman, and More Attend the Broadway Opening of The Inheritance," 18 Nov. 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.

See More

First Known Use of graffiti


1964, in the meaning defined above


1945, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for graffiti

Noun and Verb

Italian, plural of graffito

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about graffiti

Time Traveler for graffiti

Time Traveler

The first known use of graffiti was in 1945

See more words from the same year

Statistics for graffiti

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Graffiti.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on graffiti

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with graffiti

Spanish Central: Translation of graffiti

Nglish: Translation of graffiti for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of graffiti for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about graffiti

Comments on graffiti

What made you want to look up graffiti? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


very cautious or careful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!