Definition of graffiti in English:
plural noun (singular graffito /-təʊ/)[treated as singular or plural]
- A classroom was trashed and walls were daubed with graffiti spray before the wooden library door was set alight.
- In Cricklade, its store has had graffiti sprayed on the walls.
- Police in Swindon are urging residents to come forward with clues to help snare vandals who sprayed racist graffiti on walls in Old Town.
verb[with object] (usually as adjective graffitied) Back to top
- In January 2001 three-quarters of their pavilion was burnt down, costing an estimated £200,000 to repair, and the metal shutters were graffitied just last week.
- The youths used threatening behaviour, caused damage to vehicles, threw missiles at neighbours' property, verbally abused and intimidated neighbours and graffitied the area.
- It is heavily graffitied and the dripping paint forms a chaotic pattern that completely disrupts the flat and freshly plowed field in the background.
- When a platoon of American troops in WWII were making their way across Europe, they came across a bombed-out monastery with these words graffitied on its basement wall.
- ‘The paramilitaries have graffitied threats against us on the walls.’
- When Nazi swastikas were graffitied around where he worked, it took managers over a year to have them cleaned up.
mid 19th century: from Italian (plural), from graffio 'a scratch'.
Although we think of graffiti as being scribbled, painted, or sprayed on a wall, it was originally scratched on. The word first appeared in English in the mid 19th century and was applied to ancient wall drawings or inscriptions found in ruins in Rome or Pompeii. This was an adoption of an Italian word in the plural form (the singular being graffito), from graffio ‘a scratch’.
In Italian the word graffiti is a plural noun and its singular form is graffito. Traditionally, the same distinction has been maintained in English, so that graffiti, being plural, would require a plural verb: the graffiti were all over the wall. By the same token, the singular would require a singular verb: there was a graffito on the wall. Today, these distinctions survive in some specialist fields such as archaeology but sound odd to most native speakers. The most common modern use is to treat graffiti as if it were a mass noun, similar to a word like writing, and not to use graffito at all. In this case, graffiti takes a singular verb, as in the graffiti was all over the wall. Such uses are now widely accepted as standard. A similar process is going on with other words such as agenda, data, and media.
- Example sentences
- The recently-erected bus shelters are much appreciated by the bus-travelling public, but graffitists and worse are already targeting them.
- A graffitist wants his tag or piece (and the overwhelming majority are male) to be conspicuous for as long as possible
- After all, a graffitist can scrawl an offensive message in seconds.
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