Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In archaeology, an ancient scribbling scratched, painted, or otherwise marked on a wall, column, tablet, or other surface.
  • noun In art, a scratching or scoring for the production of designs or effects.
  • noun A vessel of pottery decorated in graffito.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Art) Production of decorative designs by scratching them through a surface of layer plaster, glazing, etc., revealing a different-colored ground; also, pottery or ware so decorated; -- chiefly used attributively.
  • noun the singular form of graffiti, seldom used.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun archaeology and related fields An informal inscription, as by a worker or vandal.
  • noun rare A single instance of graffiti in the art/vandalism sense.

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

  • noun a rude decoration inscribed on rocks or walls

Etymologies

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

[Italian, diminutive of graffio, a scratching, scribble, probably from graffiare, to scratch, scribble, probably from Vulgar Latin *graphiāre, to write with a stylus, from Latin graphium, stylus, from Greek grapheion, graphion, from graphein, to write; see gerbh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Italian graffito.

Examples

  • When the inscription is properly cut into the stone, it is called a titulus or marble; if merely scratched on the stone, the Italian word graffito is used; a painted inscription is called dipinto, and a mosaic inscription — such as are found largely in North Africa, Spain, and the East — bears the name of opus musivum.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 8: Infamy-Lapparent

  • Second, the fact that this particular graffito is so cleverly executed, given how it blends in.

    Waldo Jaquith - Virgil Goode: “Bigot.”

  • His tomb bore this Latin graffito: "Hic jacet impius Pios" — "here lies an impious pope between two Piuses."

    USATODAY.com - Papal funeral merges spectacle, symbolism

  • Emphasis will be placed on surface design techniques such as graffito and stenciling.

    Island Packet: Home

  • A man called Kilroy travels into the US wartime past of the 1940s, and leaves in a graffito a mark of his presence.

    Science fiction mystery « Squares of Wheat

  • A man called Kilroy travels into the US wartime past of the 1940s, and leaves in a graffito a mark of his presence.

    April « 2010 « Squares of Wheat

  • We biked along the Czech Republic's border with Austria and made our way to villages like Slavonice and Telc, known for buildings done in ornamental graffito; Cizov, for a slice of Iron Curtain; and Jindrichuv Hradec, home to the country's third largest castle.

    Bohemian Rhapsody on Two Wheels

  • The kids who get up at midnight and head out to a derelict wall to begin working on a graffito are working within a demanding tradition that requires the sequence of execution to have been worked out in detail in advance, before any mark can be made.

    Now please pay attention everybody. I'm about to tell you what art is | Germaine Greer

  • A classicist by training, Mr. Toohey argues, to the contrary, that boredom has always been with us, which seems plausible enough if this ancient graffito from a much-scribbled-on wall in Pompeii is anything to go by: Wall!

    Accidie? Ennui? Sigh . . .

  • Consider also media (from medium), criteria (from criterion), graffiti (from graffito), and stamina (from stamen).

    Data is data, or are they?

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