van·​dal | \ˈvan-dᵊl \

Definition of vandal 

1 capitalized : a member of a Germanic people who lived in the area south of the Baltic Sea between the Vistula and the Oder rivers, overran Gaul, Spain, and northern Africa in the fourth and fifth centuries a.d., and in 455 sacked Rome

2 : one who willfully or ignorantly destroys, damages, or defaces property belonging to another or to the public

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Other Words from vandal

vandal adjective often capitalized
Vandalic \van-​ˈda-​lik \ adjective

Synonyms for vandal



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Examples of vandal in a Sentence

Vandals defaced the school's walls. a group of vandals broke into the school and painted graffiti on the walls

Recent Examples on the Web

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spends so little time on her $40 million yacht — one of at least 10 ships belonging to the DeVos family — that a group of vandals managed to set it free over the summer. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "What are rich people buying now? Superyachts, apparently.," 8 Nov. 2018 Nobel Elementary has lost its entire south wall to vandals, but school officials say the Miller parcel might appeal to a buyer. Carole Carlson, Post-Tribune, "Gary's empty schools have seen vandalism, arson and neglect. Now, they're going on the real estate market.," 28 June 2018 The city of Savannah is searching for a vandal who put googly eyes on the Nathanael Greene Monument in Johnson Square. Fox News, "Video from 2011 creates headaches for Sinema," 12 Oct. 2018 In an act of solidarity, the first man to destroy Trump’s star (and possibly ego) is bailing out the latest vandal. Jennie Neufeld, Vox, "Vox Sentences: #SayHerName: Nia Wilson," 27 July 2018 After the station closed in 1988, scavengers and vandals gradually reduced it to a near ruin. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford looks at buying Detroit's long-vacant Michigan Central Station," 19 Mar. 2018 The vandals caused approximately $1,200 in damage, according to a Lincoln police report. Grant Schulte, The Seattle Times, "Nebraska GOP office windows smashed; ‘ABOLISH ICE’ scrawled," 3 July 2018 As residents and employers fled Detroit over the years, however, train traffic dwindled and then ceased, and the station became a target of vandals, graffiti artists and photographers looking to capture images of urban decay. Neal E. Boudette, New York Times, "Ford Aims to Revive a Detroit Train Station, and Itself," 17 June 2018 Aarti thinks skateboarders and vandals are the main culprits. Sven Berg, The Seattle Times, "Heat, water and trucks are destroying a Boise mosaic," 9 July 2018

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

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vandal

borrowed from Late Latin Vandalī (plural) (Latin Vindilī, Vandiliī), probably borrowed from Germanic *wand-il-, noun derivative from a verbal base *wend- "wind, wrap, turn, move" (whence Old English windan to twist, move with speed or force"), as in *auza-wandil-, perhaps, "dawn-wanderer," name of a star and mythological figure (whence Old Norse Aurvandill, Old English ēarendel) — more at wind entry 4

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Statistics for vandal

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vandal

The first known use of vandal was in 1530

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More Definitions for vandal



English Language Learners Definition of vandal

: a person who deliberately destroys or damages property : a person who vandalizes something


van·​dal | \ˈvan-dəl \

Kids Definition of vandal

: a person who destroys or damages property on purpose


van·​dal | \ˈvand-ᵊl \

Legal Definition of vandal 

: a person who willfully destroys, damages, or defaces property belonging to another or to the public

History and Etymology for vandal

Vandal, member of a Germanic tribe who sacked Rome in A.D. 455

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