[ dih-seet-fuhl ]
/ dɪˈsit fəl /
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given to deceiving: A deceitful person cannot keep friends for long.
intended to deceive; misleading; fraudulent: a deceitful action.
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Origin of deceitful

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at deceit, -ful


de·ceit·ful·ly, adverbde·ceit·ful·ness, nounun·de·ceit·ful, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does deceitful mean?

Deceitful means intended to or tending to deceive—to lie, mislead, or otherwise hide or distort the truth.

The noun deceit most commonly refers to the act or practice of deceiving, but it can also refer to the quality of someone or something that deceives. A deceitful person can be said to be full of deceit.

Deceitful can describe people, their actions, or something that deceives or is intended to deceive, as in It was a deceitful plan from the beginning. The word deceptive has a very similar meaning, but it’s typically applied to actions or practices, as in deceptive business practices.

Being deceitful 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 deceitful.

Words like deceit and deceitful often imply a pattern of behavior, rather than a one-time act.

Example: I’m sick of how deceitful you are—I can’t trust anything you say!

Where does deceitful come from?

The first records of the word deceitful come from the 1400s. Its base word, deceit, 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).

Things described as deceitful include attempts to mislead or trick someone or trap them with a deceptive scheme. Being deceitful 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 weren’t deceitful.

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What are some other forms related to deceitful?

  • deceitfully (adverb)
  • deceitfulness (noun)
  • deceit (noun)

What are some synonyms for deceitful?

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

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

How is deceitful used in real life?

Deceitful and deceptive are often used to mean the same thing, but deceptive is less likely to be used to describe a person and more likely to describe an action or practice. Deceitful can be used in all kinds of contexts, though of course it is common in political discussion.


Try using deceitful!

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

A. duplicitous
B. deceptive
C. descriptive
D. dishonest

How to use deceitful in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for deceitful

/ (dɪˈsiːtfʊl) /

full of deceit

Derived forms of deceitful

deceitfully, adverbdeceitfulness, noun
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