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

Definition of graffito

: an inscription or drawing made on some public surface (such as a rock or wall) also : a message or slogan written as or as if as a graffito

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Other Words from graffito

graffitist \ grə-​ˈfē-​tist How to pronounce graffitist (audio) , gra-​ , grä-​ \ noun

Graffito Is the Singular Form of Graffiti

Any casual writing or design marked on a wall is a graffito. Graffiti (the plural of graffito) have been made throughout history; they are found in abundance on the monuments of ancient Egypt. Technically the term applies to a design scratched through a layer of paint or plaster, but its meaning is extended to other markings. Graffiti produced with spray paint became notorious in New York City in the 1970s and have appeared in cities all over the US and Europe. The 20th-century preoccupation with manifestations of the subconscious stimulated this form of expression and produced a vogue for “graffiti art.” Graffiti are sometimes considered a form of folk art.

Examples of graffito in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Some parts of central Athens are so afflicted with graffiti — largely undecipherable squiggles in bold, broad strokes — that few facades remain untouched and property owners give up on repainting. Washington Post, "Kilroy was here: Athens walls awash in painted squiggles," 17 Aug. 2019 Her office gave out tough penalties to graffiti taggers, drug dealers and those who weren’t paying child support. Josiah Bates, Time, "Criminal Justice Reform Is Proving a Tricky Subject for Many of These 2020 Democrats," 2 July 2019 But photos of the graffiti were already being texted, emailed and Snapchatted. Jessica Contrera, Washington Post, "A black principal, four white teens and the ‘senior prank’ that became a hate crime," 9 July 2019 West 117th Street Police took a report at about 12:21 p.m. June 24 about graffiti found painted on a fence. Bruce Geiselman,, "Man reported passed out on railroad tracks: Lakewood Police Blotter," 6 July 2019 Protesters on Monday smashed their way into the building, entering the main chamber, spraying graffiti on the walls and hoisting the flag that the city used before it was governed by China. NBC News, "Hong Kong's leader condemns protesters after they storm legislative chamber," 2 July 2019 What such an accord would mean for graffiti, an art form that has increasingly been defanged, coopted, and commodified, remains an open question. Daisy Alioto, The New Republic, "How Graffiti Became Gentrified," 19 June 2019 San Mateo County sheriff’s detectives began conducting surveillance in a number of parks throughout San Carlos, based on an influx in what appeared to be anti-Semitic and racist graffiti, according to the sheriff’s office. Erin Baldassari, The Mercury News, "Anti-Semitic graffiti at San Carlos park leads to arrest of juvenile," 20 July 2019 Hanna said the killings were vicious, including one in which several MS-13 members participated in the dismemberment of a rival gang member who reportedly defaced MS-13 graffiti. Steve Almasy, CNN, "MS-13 members hacked up one victim and cut out his heart, federal indictment says," 16 July 2019

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

1851, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for graffito

Italian, incised inscription, from graffiare to scratch, probably from grafio stylus, from Latin graphium

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Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for graffito

The first known use of graffito was in 1851

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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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