Graffiti on the banks of the Tiber river in Rome, Italy
Ancient graffito at Kom Ombo Temple, Egypt

Graffiti (plural of graffito: "a graffito", but "these graffiti") are writing or drawings that have been scribbled, scratched, or painted, typically illicitly, on a wall or other surface, often within public view.[1] Graffiti range from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings, and they have existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire.[2]

In modern times, paint (particularly spray paint) and marker pens have become the most commonly used graffiti materials. In most countries, marking or painting property without the property owner's permission is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime.

Graffiti may also express underlying social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression is based upon spray paint graffiti styles. Within hip hop culture, graffiti have evolved alongside hip hop music, b-boying, and other elements.[3] Unrelated to hip-hop graffiti, gangs use their own form of graffiti to mark territory or to serve as an indicator of gang-related activities.[4]

Controversies that surround graffiti continue to create disagreement amongst city officials, law enforcement, and writers who wish to display and appreciate work in public locations. There are many different types and styles of graffiti; it is a rapidly developing art form whose value is highly contested and reviled by many authorities while also subject to protection, sometimes within the same jurisdiction.


1569 scratched graffiti in the Holy Trinity Chapel in Lublin, commemorating Union of Lublin

Both "graffiti" and its occasional singular form "graffito" are from the Italian word graffiato ("scratched"). "Graffiti" is applied in art history to works of art produced by scratching a design into a surface. A related term is "sgraffito",[5] which involves scratching through one layer of pigment to reveal another beneath it. This technique was primarily used by potters who would glaze their wares and then scratch a design into it. In ancient times graffiti were carved on walls with a sharp object, although sometimes chalk or coal were used. The word originates from Greek γράφεινgraphein — meaning "to write."[6]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Graffiti
العربية: جرافيتي
asturianu: Grafiti
azərbaycanca: Qraffiti
Bân-lâm-gú: Loān-chō
беларуская: Графіці
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Графіці
български: Графити
català: Grafit (art)
čeština: Graffiti
Cymraeg: Graffiti
dansk: Graffiti
Deutsch: Graffiti
eesti: Grafiti
Ελληνικά: Γκράφιτι
español: Grafiti
Esperanto: Grafitio
euskara: Grafiti
français: Graffiti
galego: Graffiti
한국어: 낙서
Հայերեն: Գրաֆիտի
हिन्दी: दीवारकला
hrvatski: Grafiti
Bahasa Indonesia: Grafiti
italiano: Graffitismo
עברית: גרפיטי
Basa Jawa: Grafiti
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಗೀಚುಬರಹ
ქართული: გრაფიტი
қазақша: Граффити
Kiswahili: Machata
Latina: Graphitum
latviešu: Grafiti
Lëtzebuergesch: Graffiti
lietuvių: Grafitis
magyar: Graffiti
македонски: Графити
മലയാളം: ഗ്രഫിറ്റി
مازِرونی: گرافیتی
Bahasa Melayu: Grafiti
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဂရက်ဖတီ
Nederlands: Graffiti
日本語: 落書き
norsk: Graffiti
norsk nynorsk: Graffiti
Nouormand: Graffiti
occitan: Graffiti
پنجابی: گریفٹی
Papiamentu: Graffiti
Plattdüütsch: Graffiti
polski: Graffiti
português: Grafito
română: Graffiti
русский: Граффити
shqip: Graffiti
Simple English: Graffiti
slovenčina: Graffiti
slovenščina: Grafit (umetnost)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Grafiti
suomi: Graffiti
svenska: Graffiti
తెలుగు: గ్రాఫిటీ
Türkçe: Grafiti
українська: Графіті
vepsän kel’: Graffiti
Tiếng Việt: Graffiti
粵語: 塗鴉
Zazaki: Dêsnuşte
中文: 塗鴉