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[dih-feys] /dɪˈfeɪs/
verb (used with object), defaced, defacing.
to mar the surface or appearance of; disfigure:
to deface a wall by writing on it.
to efface, obliterate, or injure the surface of, as to make illegible or invalid:
to deface a bond.
Origin of deface
1275-1325; Middle English defacen < Old French desfacier, equivalent to des- dis-1 + facier (face face + -ier infinitive suffix)
Related forms
defaceable, adjective
defacement, noun
defacer, noun
undefaceable, adjective
undefaced, adjective
1. spoil. See mar. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for defacement
Historical Examples
  • One of the islanders might chance to observe the defacement of the tomb.

    Tongues of Conscience

    Robert Smythe Hichens
  • They are never disfigured with vile language or other defacement.

    Farm Boys and Girls

    William Arch McKeever
  • It was its extreme hardness that saved it from destruction and defacement.

  • Val knew it in a moment, in spite of its marks of defacement.

    Elster's Folly Mrs. Henry Wood
  • The idea that the chiefs who erected these monuments were the authors of their defacement is too absurd for serious consideration.

  • About eight o'clock the sedan was brought home empty, and without a sign of defacement inside or out.

  • The Journal had been calling the attention of its readers to the defacement of the landscape by billboard advertisers.

  • In England, the purpose of the defacement marks is primarily to prevent the stamp being used again.

    Her Majesty's Mails

    William Lewins
  • By the following simple method this can be done without any injury or defacement of the ivory.

  • Pictures of generals or royalties are especially liable to defacement with opprobrious epithets.

    A Librarian's Open Shelf Arthur E. Bostwick
British Dictionary definitions for defacement


(transitive) to spoil or mar the surface, legibility, or appearance of; disfigure
Derived Forms
defaceable, adjective
defacement, noun
defacer, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for defacement

1560s, from deface + -ment.



mid-14c., "to obliterate," from Old French desfacier "mutilate, destroy, disfigure," from des- "away from" (see dis-) + Vulgar Latin *facia (see face (n.)). Weaker sense of "to mar, make ugly" is late 14c. in English. Related: Defaced; defacing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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