is in origin a plural word, but its use has developed rapidly. Before the 1960s it was mainly used by art historians and archaeologists to refer to drawings or writing scratched on the walls of ancient buildings (notably at Pompeii). Spray-can daubings since the 1960s have brought the word dramatically into general use, with the result that graffiti is generally accepted as a mass noun like confetti or spaghetti:

• That haunting graffiti inscribed on the approaches to Paddington station —Times, 1980

• ‘I don't need drugs,’ the T-shirt graffiti proclaims —Observer, 1981

• There was little or no hooliganism in those days, and what graffiti there was would be written largely in Latin, with here and there the odd something of Greek —Independent on Sunday, 1998

• The main concern was the impression graffiti creates of the district —news website, BrE 2004 [OEC].

The COD since its 10th edition of 1999 has marked the word as ‘treated as sing[ular] or pl[ural]’, and the singular graffito is now rarely used except in technical contexts or by way of pedantry.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Graffiti — • The term in common usage among archaeologists to designate a class of rude inscriptions scratched on the walls of ancient monuments, generally sepulchral, as distinguised from the formal inscriptions engraved on the tombs of the deceased… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Graffiti — Spl mit Farbe auf Wände usw. gesprühte Texte und Bilder per. Wortschatz fremd. Erkennbar fremd (20. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus ne. graffiti Pl., dieses aus it. graffito m. Eingeritztes , zu it. graffiare kratzen .    Ebenso nndl. graffiti,… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • graffiti — graffíti (ist.) s. n. pl. Trimis de siveco, 24.04.2007. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  GRAFFÍTI (arheol.) Inscripţii, desene de pe monumentele antice. ♦ (Curent) Inscripţii zgâriate pe pereţi. [sg. graffito. / < fr. graffiti] …   Dicționar Român

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  • graffiti — ► PLURAL NOUN (sing. graffito) (treated as sing. or pl. ) ▪ unauthorized writing or drawings on a surface in a public place. ► VERB ▪ write or draw graffiti on. DERIVATIVES graffitist noun. USAGE In Italian the word graffiti is a plu …   English terms dictionary

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