de·​ceit | \ di-ˈsēt How to pronounce deceit (audio) \

Definition of deceit

1 : the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid : the act or practice of deceiving : deception achieving one's goals through a web of deceit
2 : an attempt or device to deceive : trick Her excuse turned out to be a deceit.
3 : the quality of being dishonest or misleading : the quality of being deceitful : deceitfulness … far from deceit or guile.— John Milton

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of deceit in a Sentence

a rise to power that was marked by treachery and deceit she's completely free of deceit
Recent Examples on the Web And if the Sacklers were required to publicly disclose all knowledge of OxyContin’s harmful effects or go to prison for their deceit, how different might their actions have been and h0w many more Americans would still be alive today? Robert Pearl, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 Johnson and his deceit turned back the hope inspired by the Emancipation Proclamation and gave rise instead to an enduring culture of violence and discrimination against Black people. Washington Post, 3 Sep. 2021 For all his deceit and disgrace, Mellaart made discoveries that led to an explosion of archaeological interest in the region, and gave a lift to the emerging science of paleobotany. Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Aug. 2021 His deceit was wide-ranging and unsettling, and prompted questions within the publishing industry about authorship, privilege and identity. Annabel Gutterman, Time, 14 May 2021 Harry starts using a wheelchair, withdraws from work, and tailors even his most private behavior to the needs of his deceit. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 7 May 2021 His death roused suspicion about Kakehi's string of unlucky lovers, prompting a police investigation that quickly unraveled her web of deceit. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 25 Sep. 2021 In striking contrast with McCall, however, Paulk is now living as an openly gay man with a partner, speaking with great regret of the deceit that nearly killed him. Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2021 For another, firms organized around deceit may be just as likely to turn those energies toward their clients, bloating budgets and billing for work that never gets done., 26 July 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for deceit

Middle English deceite, from Anglo-French, from Latin decepta, feminine of deceptus, past participle of decipere — see deceive

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About deceit

Time Traveler for deceit

Time Traveler

The first known use of deceit was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near deceit




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for deceit

Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Deceit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for deceit



English Language Learners Definition of deceit

: dishonest behavior : behavior that is meant to fool or trick someone


de·​ceit | \ di-ˈsēt How to pronounce deceit (audio) \

Kids Definition of deceit

1 : the act or practice of making someone believe something that is not true : deception The villain used deceit to further his evil plan.
2 : a statement or act that is meant to fool or trick someone We saw through her deceit.
3 : the quality of being dishonest



Legal Definition of deceit

: deliberate and misleading concealment, false declaration, or artifice : deception theft by deceit also : the tort of committing or carrying out deceit an action for deceit — see also fraud, misrepresentation

More from Merriam-Webster on deceit

Nglish: Translation of deceit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deceit for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something 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!