Graffiti on a wall.
When someone scrawls a gang symbol on the side of a public building, this is an example of graffiti.
plural nounsing. -·fi′to
Origin of graffitiIt, scribblings from graffio, a scratch from Classical Latin graphium: see graft
nounused with a sing. or pl. verb
Origin of graffitiItalian pl. of graffito ; see graffito.
Usage Note: The word graffiti is a plural noun in Italian. In English graffiti is far more common than the singular form graffito and is mainly used as a singular noun in much the same way data is. When the reference is to a particular inscription (as in There was a bold graffiti on the wall ), the form graffito would be etymologically correct but might strike some readers as pedantic outside an archaeological context. There is no substitute for the singular use of graffiti when the word is used as a mass noun to refer to inscriptions in general or to the related social phenomenon: Graffiti is a major problem for the Transit Authority Police.
- There is no universal singular form to denote a single piece of graffiti. In archaeology, and occasionally elsewhere, graffito is used, reflecting the Italian singular. There is some non-standard usage of graffitus, as though it were Latin (compare focus, plural foci); graffitum, also Latin sounding; and graffiti itself, unmodified.
- There is no clear dividing line between graffiti that constitutes art and that consitutes vandalism; in cases where this word may be misinterpreted, consider using a synonym.
(third-person singular simple present graffitis, present participle graffitiing, simple past and past participle graffitied)