[ dee-kal, dih-kal ]
/ ˈdi kæl, dɪˈkæl /


a specially prepared paper bearing a picture or design for transfer to wood, metal, glass, etc.
the picture or design itself.

verb (used with object), de·caled or de·called, de·cal·ing or de·cal·ling.

to apply decals on.

Origin of decal

First recorded in 1950–55; shortened form of decalcomania Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for decal


/ (dɪˈkæl, ˈdiːkæl) /


short for decalcomania


to transfer (a design) by decalcomania
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 decal



by 1909, shortening of decalcomania, from French décalcomanie, from décalquer (18c.) "transferring of a tracing from specially prepared paper to glass, porcelain, etc." (in vogue in France 1840s, England 1862-64), from de- "off" + calquer "to press," from Italian calcare, from Latin calcare "to tread on, press."

Time was when there were only printers employed in making the sheets that were stuck on the ware, giving the old-time term of "plain print." This form of decoration was succeeded a few years ago by the decalcomania or "decal." This "decal" is an imported sheet, lithographed, and the little sprigs, flowers and scenes are cut out and stuck on the ware. ["Brick, the Leading Clay Journal," April 1909]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper