Definition of efface in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Erase (a mark) from a surface.

    ‘with time, the words are effaced by the frost and the rain’
    figurative ‘his anger was effaced when he stepped into the open air’
    • ‘It seemed to me to symbolise how the Northern conflict had effaced so much personal history.’
    • ‘Some literary critics have argued that interactivity will efface literature itself.’
    • ‘And rather than rely on imaginary resolutions that efface conflicts and contradictions, they aim to deal with the concrete particularity of the other in her unique and unrepeatable situation.’
    • ‘Is the carnage associated with them a result of lurid scriptural interpretations of religion which have effaced the life of the spirit?’
    • ‘The concern with keeping everything ‘smooth and quiet’ in the novel, no matter what the social cost, presents white Southern life as determined to efface the rights of all African Americans.’
    • ‘Even so, this ambivalence about the redemptive value of art does not efface the authorial voice of the film.’
    • ‘To subordinate the essentially cinematic as he does is itself a technique of ineffable skill; and to efface his signature as a director from the style of a film argues a modest purity of aim that is refreshing.’
    • ‘Similarly, the images of discredited rulers were effaced in the monumental narrative reliefs which played so prominent a role in imperial propaganda art.’
    • ‘As many of the weather's varied meanings as both help and hindrance have been effaced, indeed, such preferences show up all the more clearly because practical considerations no longer obscure them.’
    • ‘This ending is as bleak as any in the history of tragic drama - death, rape, slavery, fire destroying the towers, the city's very name effaced from the record of history by the acts of rapacious and murderous Greeks.’
    • ‘If the leaders maintained their authority, and if every person and factor in the devastated area would proceed to their work in the best order, the traces of the catastrophe would soon be effaced.’
    • ‘Woodson is best known today as the father of African American history; many online accounts of his life misrepresent him as the youngest child of former slaves, effacing that he had any younger siblings, including Bessie Woodson Yancey.’
    • ‘Davis, however, looks for an English equivalent that might work in both contexts, so as not to efface their suggestive interconnection.’
    • ‘In this way, Morrison implies that the traumatic impact of slavery can never be fully effaced.’
    • ‘She speaks of feeling as if her identity was being effaced by the requirement to appear neutrally Western.’
    • ‘Only by grossly simplifying and distorting the data, particularly in the domain of literary and textual production, can such differences be effaced or ignored between the cultures in the Republic and Northern Ireland.’
    • ‘He consequently suffuses his speech with a rhetoric that effaces differences among Celts and Saxons.’
    • ‘The result is an important challenge to the new historicist tendency to efface the literary dimensions of early modern poetry.’
    • ‘Unlike Conceptual art, it has specific formal characteristics - geometric, monochromatic shapes - and a recurrent concern with effacing all signs of artistic personality and effort from the work itself.’
    • ‘The uncertainty is effaced by the overwhelming tendency to fall towards the stable end-state.’
  • 2efface oneselfMake oneself appear insignificant or inconspicuous.

    • ‘The Talmud states that people's prayers are not accepted unless they efface themselves before God.’
    • ‘The decorators strive to efface themselves, just as persons of the highest breeding possess the simplest manners.’
    • ‘As author, she effaces herself absolutely in order to reflect and depict the story of Narcissus.’
    • ‘She had effaced herself when he first knew her; she had made herself small, pretending there was less of her than there really was.’
    make oneself inconspicuous, keep out of sight, keep oneself to oneself, keep quiet, keep out of the public eye, avoid publicity, keep out of the limelight, lie low, keep a low profile, regard oneself as unimportant, treat oneself as unimportant, be diffident, be modest, be retiring, withdraw
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Late 15th century (in the sense ‘pardon or be absolved from (an offense)’): from French effacer, from e- (from Latin ex- ‘away from’) + face ‘face’.