from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To rub or wipe out; erase.
  • transitive v. To make indistinct as if by rubbing: "Five years' absence had done nothing to efface the people's memory of his firmness” ( Alan Moorehead). See Synonyms at erase.
  • transitive v. To conduct (oneself) inconspicuously: "When the two women went out together, Anna deliberately effaced herself and played to the dramatic Molly” ( Doris Lessing).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To erase (as anything impressed or inscribed upon a surface); to render illegible or indiscernible.
  • v. To cause to disappear as if by rubbing out or striking out.
  • v. To make oneself inobtrusive as if due to modesty or diffidence.
  • v. Of the cervix during pregnancy, to thin and stretch in preparation for labor.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To cause to disappear (as anything impresses or inscribed upon a surface) by rubbing out, striking out, etc.; to erase; to render illegible or indiscernible.
  • transitive v. To destroy, as a mental impression; to wear away.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To erase or obliterate, as something inscribed or cut on a surface; destroy or render illegible; hence, to remove or destroy as if by erasing: as, to efface the letters on a monument; to efface a writing; to efface a false impression from a person's mind.
  • To keep out of view or unobserved; make inconspicuous; cause to be unnoticed or not noticeable: used reflexively: as, to efface one's self in the midst of gaiety.
  • Synonyms Deface, Erase, Cancel, Expunge, Efface, Obliterate. To deface is to injure, impair, or mar to the eye, and so generally upon the surface: as, to deface a building. The other words agree in representing a blotting out or removal. To erase is to rub out or scratch out, so that the thing is destroyed, although the signs of it may remain: as, to erase a word in a letter. To cancel is to cross out, to deprive of force or validity. To expunge is to strike out; the word is now rarely used, except of the striking out of some record: as, to expunge from the journal a resolution of censure. To efface is to make a complete removal: as, his kindness effaced all memory of past neglect. Obliterate is more emphatic than efface, meaning to remove all sign or trace of.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. remove by or as if by rubbing or erasing
  • v. remove completely from recognition or memory
  • v. make inconspicuous


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English effacen, from French effacer, from Old French esfacier : es-, out (from Latin ex-, ex-) + face, face; see face.


  • Her sister caught hold of the word efface, and rung the changes upon it.

    Amelia — Complete

  • There's one valedictory wink from the great magician, a final card containing a list of synonyms for "efface" - expunge, erase, delete, rub out, wipe out and ... obliterate.

    Culture |

  • And that, night cannot efface from the painter’s imagination’ (quoted without attribution in Holden

    Darkness Audible: Negative Capability and Mark Doty’s 'Nocturne in Black and Gold'

  • While speaking in her clear tones with a depth of feeling in her manner and varying expression efface, her beauty was felt by all.

    A Heart-Song of To-day

  • Mine is a friendship that neither distance nor tune can efface, which is probably the reason that, for the soul of me, I can't avoid thinking yours of the same complexion; and yet I have many reasons for being of a contrary opinion, else why, in so long an absence, was I never made a partner in your concerns?

    Oliver Goldsmith

  • The writer's own person being abolished (it becomes his business to "efface" himself behind his characters), so is his work, and likewise its product, namely the piece of writing.

    Claude Simon - Nobel Lecture

  • And, after all, his plans to 'efface' Clayton were only inchoate.

    The Midnight Passenger : a novel

  • First, they efface the history of autonomous resistance by ordinary African Americans in the city, who, it now seems, were far more representative of black Birmingham than were the sons and daughters of civil rights activists who marched themselves into jail.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • It most certainly doesn't efface the resentment and disillusionment of those seeking democratic transformation.

    Michael Brenner: Obama on Moving Sands

  • A glance at a nationalist journal from the 1840s, for instance, finds the writer Thomas Davis floating a plan to put select Gaelic terms back into popular use in order to "efface the very footsteps of the foreign spoliator from our soil."

    Putting Sweet Sounds Together


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