van·​dal·​ize ˈvan-də-ˌlīz How to pronounce vandalize (audio)
vandalized; vandalizing

transitive verb

: to subject to vandalism : damage
vandalization noun

Did you know?

At one point in Frodo’s journey in The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien depicts an ancient statue overlooking a crossroads: “Its head was gone, and in its place was set in mockery a round rough-hewn stone, rudely painted … in the likeness of a grinning face with one large red eye in the midst of its forehead.” The statue had been vandalized by orcs, but the roots of vandalize have more in common with the name of a Tolkien hero. Vandalize comes from the noun vandal, which was originally capitalized and referred to a member of a Germanic people who lived south of the Baltic Sea and sacked Rome in the year 455 CE. This sacking is what likely led to the use of the lower-case vandal for someone who damages or destroys property. The Late Latin word for such a Vandal was Vandalī, a word probably borrowed from a Germanic verb meaning “wend, turn” that also gave rise to the Old English Ēarendel, the name of a mythological figure that inspired Tolkien’s creation of Eärendil, a mariner who wends his way across the sky of Middle Earth carrying the morning star.

Examples of vandalize in a Sentence

Our car was vandalized in the parking lot. he decided to vandalize the store because the owner had kicked him out
Recent Examples on the Web Jenni Rivera's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has barely had its day in the sun, and it has already been vandalized. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 8 July 2024 Nearly 200 gravestones at two Jewish cemeteries in Cincinnati were vandalized, the Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati said. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, 3 July 2024 The homes of the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum and several of the museum's board members were vandalized allegedly by protesters last week, the police previously said. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 19 June 2024 The Jewish head of the Brooklyn Museum and several of the museum’s board Jewish members had their homes vandalized. Erick Erickson, Orange County Register, 17 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for vandalize 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vandalize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


vandal + -ize

First Known Use

1832, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of vandalize was in 1832


Dictionary Entries Near vandalize

Cite this Entry

“Vandalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


van·​dal·​ize ˈvan-dᵊl-ˌīz How to pronounce vandalize (audio)
vandalized; vandalizing
: to destroy or damage property on purpose

Legal Definition


transitive verb
van·​dal·​ize ˈvand-ᵊl-ˌīz How to pronounce vandalize (audio)
vandalized; vandalizing
: to subject to vandalism

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