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[van-dl] /ˈvæn dl/
(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
1545-55; < Late Latin Vandalus, Latinized tribal name Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for vandal
  • The graffiti is drawn without the permission of the property owner and is used by the vandal as a means of gaining recognition.
  • Police detectives determined from a set of muddy footprints that the vandal had traveled along each pathway exactly once.
  • And sometimes a knife-wielding vandal decides that a precious rock-art panel is incomplete because it doesn't bear his initials.
  • Then there's the vandal who steals a register for personal gain.
  • Nationwide there are now a dozen or so manufacturers of mailbox-defense systems and vandal-resistant mailboxes.
  • But for the more musically literate vandal, an atonal barrage probably works better.
  • At other times, the question seemed more reflective, as though a habitual vandal had experienced a moment of self-doubt.
  • They relax after twenty minutes with no sign of the vandal squad.
  • Any private eye or vandal can buy your mobile-phone records.
  • Use durable materials, especially those that are vandal-proof.
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
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 Forms
Vandalic (vænˈdælɪk) adjective
Vandalism, 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
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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
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