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.

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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper