• synonyms


verb (used with object), de·faced, de·fac·ing.
  1. to mar the surface or appearance of; disfigure: to deface a wall by writing on it.
  2. to efface, obliterate, or injure the surface of, as to make illegible or invalid: to deface a bond.
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Origin of deface

1275–1325; Middle English defacen < Old French desfacier, equivalent to des- dis-1 + facier (face face + -ier infinitive suffix)
Related formsde·face·a·ble, adjectivede·face·ment, nounde·fac·er, nounun·de·face·a·ble, adjectiveun·de·faced, adjective

Synonyms for deface

1. spoil. See mar.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for defacing

vandalize, obliterate, demolish, sully, harm, blemish, disfigure, injure, tarnish, scratch, ruin, wreck, damage, distort, impair, contort, spoil, destroy, trash, mangle

Examples from the Web for defacing

Contemporary Examples of defacing

Historical Examples of defacing

  • The defacing finger of Time is visible on all perishable articles.

    Aztec Land

    Maturin M. Ballou

  • Sound, I protest,—sound in wind and limb; not a defacing mark!

    Molly Bawn

    Margaret Wolfe Hamilton

  • "You are defacing a fair memory," sighed the sculptor, with mock melancholy.

  • The glory hath been talked of; but now it is possessed, and the glory of man is defacing.

    George Fox

    George Fox

  • He once arrested a man for defacing the formations at the Upper Basin.

British Dictionary definitions for defacing


  1. (tr) to spoil or mar the surface, legibility, or appearance of; disfigure
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Derived Formsdefaceable, adjectivedefacement, noundefacer, 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

Word Origin and History for defacing



mid-14c., "to obliterate," from Old French desfacier "mutilate, destroy, disfigure," from des- "away from" (see dis-) + Vulgar Latin *facia (see face (n.)). Weaker sense of "to mar, make ugly" is late 14c. in English. Related: Defaced; defacing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper