• synonyms


  1. (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.
  2. a person who willfully or ignorantly destroys or mars something beautiful or valuable.
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  1. (initial capital letter) of or relating to the Vandals.
  2. imbued with or characterized by vandalism.
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Origin of vandal

First recorded in 1545–55, vandal is from the Late Latin word Vandalus, Latinized tribal name
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for vandals

destroyer, looter, thief, plunderer, hoodlum, mischief-maker, pirate, despoiler, pillager, ravager

Examples from the Web for vandals

Contemporary Examples of vandals

Historical Examples of vandals

British Dictionary definitions for vandals


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

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


  1. 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)
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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 vandals



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]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

vandals in Culture


A people of northern Europe, known for their cruelty and destructiveness, who invaded the Roman Empire and plundered Rome itself in the fifth century.

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The term vandalism, meaning wanton destructiveness, comes from the name of the Vandals.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.