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.

Origin of deceit

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

Synonyms for deceit

Synonym study

1, 3. See duplicity

Antonyms for deceit Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deceit

Contemporary Examples of deceit

Historical Examples of deceit

  • There was nothing of the Warden's estimate in these eyes; nothing of cruelty nor deceit nor greed.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • No, no—depend upon it there must have been some other reason for the deceit.

  • It must be my duty to reprove, to show her her deceit in its full enormity.

  • His present deceit was the natural consequence of the system he had adopted.

    Gomez Arias

    Joaqun Telesforo de Trueba y Coso

  • We suspected not that deceit, insidiousness, and slavery were to be found beneath the sun.


    William Godwin

British Dictionary definitions for deceit



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

Word Origin and History for deceit

c.1300, from Old French deceite, fem. past participle of deceveir (see deceive).

Deceit is a shorter and more energetic word for deceitfulness, indicating the quality; it is also, but more rarely, used to express the act or manner of deceiving. The reverse is true of deception, which is properly the act or course by which one deceives, and not properly the quality; it may express the state of being deceived. Fraud is an act or series of acts of deceit by which one attempts to benefit himself at the expense of others. It is generally a breaking of the law; the others are not. [entry for "deceit" in "The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia," 1902]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper