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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 defacing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The defacing finger of Time is visible on all perishable articles.

    Aztec Land Maturin M. Ballou
  • Sound, I protest,—sound in wind and limb; not a defacing mark!

    Molly Bawn Margaret Wolfe Hamilton
  • "You are defacing a fair memory," sighed the sculptor, with mock melancholy.

    The Emperor, Complete Georg Ebers
  • The glory hath been talked of; but now it is possessed, and the glory of man is defacing.

    George Fox George Fox
  • He once arrested a man for defacing the formations at the Upper Basin.

  • Meanwhile, all the agencies of travel-stain had been defacing both.

    Cedar Creek Elizabeth Hely Walshe
  • In his visitations he was very severe in defacing fictitious arms.

    Old and New London Walter Thornbury
  • It was no casual act, this defacing of a son's well-loved features.

    Dark Hollow Anna Katherine Green
British Dictionary definitions for defacing


(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 defacing



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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