[ dih-seev ]
/ dɪˈsiv /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: deceive / deceived / deceives / deceiving on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), de·ceived, de·ceiv·ing.
to mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude: They deceived the enemy by disguising the destroyer as a freighter.
to be unfaithful to (one's spouse or lover).
Archaic. to while away (time).
verb (used without object), de·ceived, de·ceiv·ing.
to mislead or falsely persuade others; practice deceit: an engaging manner that easily deceives.
Compete in our Olympics quiz to see if you can take home the gold medal in Olympics knowledge.
Question 1 of 10
Where was the Olympics first held?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of deceive

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English deceiven, from Old French deceivre, from Latin dēcipere, literally, “to ensnare,” equivalent to dē- de- + -cipere, combining form of capere “to take”

synonym study for deceive

1. See cheat.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does deceive mean?

Deceive means to lie, mislead, or otherwise hide or distort the truth.

The act or practice of deceiving can be called deceit or deception.

Lying is only one way of deceiving. Deceiving can consist of misrepresenting or omitting the truth or more complicated cover-ups. People can even deceive themselves by avoiding the truth.

The adjectives deceptive and deceitful can describe something that deceives or is intended to deceive. Someone who is known for deceiving others can be described as deceitful. Someone who is easily deceived can be described as deceivable.

Sometimes, the word deceive can be used in the context of things that are naturally or innocently misleading to one’s perception (without someone doing the deceiving), as in Do my eyes deceive me? The adjective deceiving can be used in this sense, as in Looks can be deceiving.

Example: A lot of advertising is intended to deceive us into thinking we need something.

Where does deceive come from?

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

Deceiving can include attempts to mislead or trick someone or trap them with a deceptive scheme. Deceiving someone may not involve outright lying to them. Some forms of deception involve concealing the truth or simply omitting the truth.

The poem Marmion by Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott contains a famous line (often mistakenly attributed to Shakespeare) that uses the word deceive: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave,/ When first we practise to deceive!” This means that lying and deceiving people makes things really complicated—one lie often leads to a web of others.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to deceive?

  • deceiving (continuous tense verb, adjective)
  • deceiver (noun)
  • deceivable (adjective)

What are some synonyms for deceive?

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

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

How is deceive used in real life?

Deceive most commonly implies that the deception was intentional. For this reason, it is usually used negatively, especially to criticize those doing the deceiving.


Try using deceive!

Which of the following words is a synonym of deceive?

A. mislead
B. dupe
C. delude
D. all of the above

How to use deceive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for deceive

/ (dɪˈsiːv) /

verb (tr)
to mislead by deliberate misrepresentation or lies
to delude (oneself)
to be unfaithful to (one's sexual partner)
archaic to disappointhis hopes were deceived

Derived forms of deceive

Word Origin for deceive

C13: from Old French deceivre, from Latin dēcipere to ensnare, cheat, from capere to take
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