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[gruh-fee-tee] /grəˈfi ti/
plural of graffito.
(used with a plural verb) markings, as initials, slogans, or drawings, written, spray-painted, or sketched on a sidewalk, wall of a building or public restroom, or the like:
These graffiti are evidence of the neighborhood's decline.
(used with a singular verb) such markings as a whole or as constituting a particular group:
Not much graffiti appears around here these days.
Origin of graffiti
1850-55; < Italian, plural of graffito incised inscription or design, derivative with -ito -ite2 of graffiare to scratch, perhaps influenced by presumed Latin *graphīre to write; both probably derivative of Latin graphium stylus < Greek grapheîon; cf. graphic, grapho-, graft1
Related forms
graffitist, noun
Usage note
In formal speech and writing graffiti takes a plural verb. In less formal contexts it is sometimes considered a mass noun and is used with a singular verb. The singular graffito is found mostly in archaeological and other technical writing.


[gruh-fee-toh] /grəˈfi toʊ/
noun, plural graffiti
[gruh-fee-tee] /grəˈfi ti/ (Show IPA)
Archaeology. an ancient drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface.
a single example of graffiti.
See origin at graffiti
Usage note
See graffiti. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for graffiti
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The walls341 of this passage are covered with graffiti and other records of pilgrims.

    Pagan and Christian Rome Rodolfo Lanciani
  • We stayed two days at Eriosh to study the graffiti and tombs.

    Southern Arabia Theodore Bent
  • With reference to the graffiti, one singular circumstance mentioned by De Rossi is worth repeating here.

  • There was a guardhouse at the front of the complex, but it was shuttered, abandoned, and graffiti tagged.


    Cory Doctorow
  • Ali Hamid's son took us the next day on fast-trotting camels to visit some graffiti on basaltic rocks about eight miles distant.

    Southern Arabia Theodore Bent
British Dictionary definitions for graffiti


plural noun (sing) -to (-təʊ)
(sometimes with sing verb) drawings, messages, etc, often obscene, scribbled on the walls of public lavatories, advertising posters, etc
(archaeol) inscriptions or drawings scratched or carved onto a surface, esp rock or pottery
Derived Forms
graffitist, noun
Word Origin
C19: graffito from Italian: a little scratch, from graffio, from Latin graphium stylus, from Greek grapheion; see graft1
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 graffiti

1851, for ancient wall inscriptions found in the ruins of Pompeii, from Italian graffiti, plural of graffito "a scribbling," a diminutive formation from graffio "a scratch or scribble," from graffiare "to scribble," ultimately from Greek graphein "to scratch, draw, write" (see -graphy). Sense extended 1877 to recently made crude drawings and scribbling.



singular of graffiti (q.v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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