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[gruh-fee-tee] /grəˈfi ti/
plural of graffito.
(used with a plural verb) markings, as initials, slogans, or drawings, written, spray-painted, or sketched on a sidewalk, wall of a building or public restroom, or the like:
These graffiti are evidence of the neighborhood's decline.
(used with a singular verb) such markings as a whole or as constituting a particular group:
Not much graffiti appears around here these days.
1850-55; < Italian, plural of graffito incised inscription or design, derivative with -ito -ite2 of graffiare to scratch, perhaps influenced by presumed Latin *graphīre to write; both probably derivative of Latin graphium stylus < Greek grapheîon; cf. graphic, grapho-, graft1
Related forms
graffitist, noun
Usage note
In formal speech and writing graffiti takes a plural verb. In less formal contexts it is sometimes considered a mass noun and is used with a singular verb. The singular graffito is found mostly in archaeological and other technical writing.


[gruh-fee-toh] /grəˈfi toʊ/
noun, plural graffiti
[gruh-fee-tee] /grəˈfi ti/ (Show IPA)
Archaeology. an ancient drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface.
a single example of graffiti.
see graffiti
Usage note
See graffiti. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for graffiti
  • The spark appears to have been the arrest of more than a dozen teenagers last week for painting anti-regime graffiti on a wall.
  • Spray-paint graffiti on a wall and you can be caned.
  • The original slogan was painted on a wall near a dormitory that had been set aside for students' graffiti.
  • The same line is echoed in graffiti on the wall behind him.
  • Gang graffiti is one of the best indications of gang territory and which gangs are at war with one another.
  • Alternative free weekly, covering local-interest articles from graffiti artists to urban decay to city ordinances.
  • Several types of bar-code readers make instant sense of these high-tech graffiti.
  • Insurgents also used graffiti to get their point across.
  • After a long and scurrilous underground career, graffiti has surfaced on the chaste white walls of galleries and museums.
  • Others see it as the equivalent of graffiti on the human form.
British Dictionary definitions for graffiti


plural noun (sing) -to (-təʊ)
(sometimes with sing verb) drawings, messages, etc, often obscene, scribbled on the walls of public lavatories, advertising posters, etc
(archaeol) inscriptions or drawings scratched or carved onto a surface, esp rock or pottery
Derived Forms
graffitist, noun
Word Origin
C19: graffito from Italian: a little scratch, from graffio, from Latin graphium stylus, from Greek grapheion; see graft1
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
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Word Origin and History for graffiti

1851, for ancient wall inscriptions found in the ruins of Pompeii, from Italian graffiti, plural of graffito "a scribbling," a diminutive formation from graffio "a scratch or scribble," from graffiare "to scribble," ultimately from Greek graphein "to scratch, draw, write" (see -graphy). Sense extended 1877 to recently made crude drawings and scribbling.



singular of graffiti (q.v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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graffiti in Technology

Handwriting recognition software for the Newton and Zoomer which recognises symbols that aren't necessarily letters. This gives greater speed and accuracy. It was written by Berkeley Softworks.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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