(initial capital letter) a member of a Germanic people who in the 5th century a.d. ravaged Gaul and Spain, settled in Africa, and in a.d. 455 sacked Rome.
a person who willfully or ignorantly destroys or mars something beautiful or valuable.


(initial capital letter) of or relating to the Vandals.
imbued with or characterized by vandalism.

Origin of vandal

First recorded in 1545–55, vandal is from the Late Latin word Vandalus, Latinized tribal name Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for vandal

Contemporary Examples of vandal

Historical Examples of vandal

  • The vandal had known his way about in a laboratory, that was obvious.

    Damned If You Don't

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • Luce paused in her task of placing the knives and forks to look at the vandal.

    Her Mother's Secret

    Emma D. E. N. Southworth

  • Some vandal has broken nearly every pane of glass in the house!

    The Young Bridge-Tender

    Arthur M. Winfield

  • I looked upon my father as a Byzantian sage might have looked on a Vandal.

    My Novel, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • “We shall but exchange a Goth for a Vandal,” his wife replied.

British Dictionary definitions for vandal



  1. a person who deliberately causes damage or destruction to personal or public property
  2. (as modifier)vandal instincts

Word Origin for vandal

C17: from Vandal, from Latin Vandallus, of Germanic origin



a member of a Germanic people that raided Roman provinces in the 3rd and 4th centuries ad before devastating Gaul (406–409), conquering Spain and N Africa, and sacking Rome (455): crushed by Belisarius at Carthage (533)
Derived FormsVandalic (vænˈdælɪk), adjectiveVandalism, 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 vandal

1660s, "willful destroyer of what is beautiful or venerable," from Vandals, name of the Germanic tribe that sacked Rome in 455 under Genseric, from Latin Vandalus (plural Vandali), from the tribe's name for itself (Old English Wendlas), from Proto-Germanic *Wandal- "Wanderer."

There does not seem to be in the story of the capture of Rome by the Vandals any justification for the charge of willful and objectless destruction of public buildings which is implied in the word 'vandalism.' It is probable that this charge grew out of the fierce persecution which was carried on by [the Vandal king] Gaiseric and his son against the Catholic Christians, and which is the darkest stain on their characters. ["Encyclopaedia Britannica," 13th ed., 1926]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper