[ dih-seet ]
/ dɪˈsit /
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the act or practice of deceiving; concealment or distortion of the truth for the purpose of misleading; duplicity; fraud; cheating: Once she exposed their deceit, no one ever trusted them again.
an act or device intended to deceive; trick; stratagem.
the quality of being deceitful; duplicity; falseness: a man full of deceit.
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Origin of deceit

1225–75; Middle English deceite<Anglo-French, Old French, noun use of feminine of deceit, past participle of deceivre to deceive

synonym study for deceit

1, 3. See duplicity


non·de·ceit, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does deceit mean?

Deceit is the act or practice of deceiving—lying, misleading, or otherwise hiding or distorting the truth. The word deception often means the same thing and is perhaps more commonly used.

Deceit doesn’t just involve lying. It can consist of misrepresenting or omitting the truth or more complicated cover-ups. Anything that involves intentionally misleading someone is deceit.

The word deceit often implies a pattern of behavior, rather than a one-time act. The adjective deceitful can describe something that deceives or is intended to deceive, or someone who is known for engaging in deceit.

Less commonly, the word deceit can refer to an action, scheme, or trick intended to deceive, as in It was a clever deceit, but I didn’t fall for it. 

Another less common sense of the word refers to the quality of being deceitful. A deceitful person can be said to be full of deceit.

Example: I’m sick of your constant lying and deceit—I can’t trust anything you say!

Where does deceit come from?

The first records of the word deceit come from the 1200s. It comes from the Old French verb deceivre, meaning “to deceive.” Deceit and related words like deceive and deception ultimately derive from the Latin verb dēcipere, meaning “to ensnare” (in the literal sense of trapping someone or an animal).

Forms of deceit include attempts to mislead or trick someone or trap them with a deceptive scheme. Deceit always involves deceiving someone, but it may not involve outright lying. Some forms of deceit involve concealing the truth or simply omitting the truth. Just because you didn’t lie doesn’t mean you didn’t engage in deceit.

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What are some other forms related to deceit?

What are some synonyms for deceit?

What are some words that share a root or word element with deceit

What are some words that often get used in discussing deceit?

How is deceit used in real life?

Deceit and deception are often used to mean the same thing, but deception is perhaps more commonly used because it’s slightly less formal. Both words can be used in all kinds of contexts, though of course they are common in political discussion.

Try using deceit!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of deceit?

A. duplicity
B. deception
C. description
D. dishonesty

How to use deceit in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for deceit

/ (dɪˈsiːt) /

the act or practice of deceiving
a statement, act, or device intended to mislead; fraud; trick
a tendency to deceive

Word Origin for deceit

C13: from Old French deceite, from deceivre to deceive
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