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graffiti

[gruh-fee-tee]
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noun
  1. plural of graffito.
  2. (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.
  3. (used with a singular verb) such markings as a whole or as constituting a particular group: Not much graffiti appears around here these days.
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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 formsgraf·fi·tist, 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.

graffito

[gruh-fee-toh]
noun, plural graf·fi·ti [gruh-fee-tee] /grəˈfi ti/.
  1. Archaeology. an ancient drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface.
  2. a single example of graffiti.
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Origin of graffito

see origin at graffiti

Usage note

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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.

    Makers

    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

graffiti

pl n singular -to (-təʊ)
  1. (sometimes with singular verb) drawings, messages, etc, often obscene, scribbled on the walls of public lavatories, advertising posters, etc
  2. archaeol inscriptions or drawings scratched or carved onto a surface, esp rock or pottery
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Derived Formsgraffitist, noun

Word Origin

C19: graffito from Italian: a little scratch, from graffio, from Latin graphium stylus, from Greek grapheion; see graft 1
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

Word Origin and History for graffiti

n.

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.

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graffito

n.

singular of graffiti (q.v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper