From Middle English deformen, borrowed from Old French deformer, from Latin deformare, infinitive of deformo, from de- + formo (to form), from the noun forma (form).



deform (third-person singular simple present deforms, present participle deforming, simple past and past participle deformed)

  1. (transitive) To change the form of, usually negatively; to give (something) an unusual or abnormal shape.
    • 1693, Joseph Moxon, Mechanick Exercises, London: J. Moxon, 2nd ed., “Continued in the Art of Joynery,” § 22, p. 90,[1]
      [...] you must take care to keep the Bitt straight to the Hole you pierce, lest you deform the Hole, or break the Bitt.
    • 1847, Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, London: Thomas Cautley Newby, Volume 1, Chapter 13, p. 323,[2]
      [...] deep indentations deformed the panels of the walls.
    • 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, London: Longmans, Green, “The Last Night,” pp. 75-76,[3]
      Your master, Poole, is plainly seized with one of those maladies that both torture and deform the sufferer; hence, for aught I know, the alteration of his voice; hence the mask and his avoidance of his friends [...]
    • 2000, Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, New York: Random House, Part 3, Chapter 2, p. 178,[4]
      [...] Joe’s thick thatch of curls had been deformed by his headgear into a kind of glossy black hat [...]
  2. (transitive) To change the looks of, usually negatively; to give something an unusual or abnormal appearance.
    Synonym: disfigure
    a face deformed by bitterness
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, Book 3, Canto 6, p. 483,[5]
      Some of them washing with the liquid dew
      From of their dainty limbs the dusty sweat,
      And soyle which did deforme their liuely hew,
    • 1774, Henry Home, Lord Kames, Sketches of the History of Man, Dublin: James Williams, Volume 3, Sketch 12, p. 102,[6]
      [...] their faces and bodies being deformed with paint, in order to terrify the enemy.
    • 1813, Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Canto VIII”, in Queen Mab; [], London: [] P. B. Shelley, [], OCLC 36924440, page 104:
      No storms deform the beaming brow of heaven, / Nor scatter in the freshness of its pride / The foliage of the ever verdant trees; [...]
    • 1933, Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, New York: Harcourt, Brace, Chapter 3, p. 49,[7]
      Matisse at that time was at work at his first big decoration, Le Bonheur de Vivre. [...] It was in this picture that Matisse first clearly realised his intention of deforming the drawing of the human body in order to harmonise and intensify the colour values of all the simple colours mixed only with white.
  3. (transitive) To mar the character of.
    a marriage deformed by jealousy
    • c. 1594, William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act V, Scene 2,[8]
      [...] your beauty, ladies,
      Hath much deform’d us, fashioning our humours
      Even to the opposed end of our intents:
    • 1659, John Evelyn, A Character of England, London: Jo. Crooke, p. 28,[9]
      [...] a Cento of unheard of Heresies [...] which, at present, deform the once renowned Church of England;
    • 1742, Samuel Richardson, Pamela, London: S. Richardson, Volume 3, Letter 32, p. 240,[10]
      It made me tremble a little [...] to think what a sad thing Passion is, when Way is given to its ungovernable Tumults, and how it deforms and debases the noblest Minds!
    • 1772, George Colman, Prologue, in Elizabeth Griffith, A Wife in the Right, London: for the author,[11]
      While narrow prejudice deform’d the age,
      No actress play’d, no female trod the Stage;
    • 1848, James Fenimore Cooper, The Oak Openings, New York: Burgess, Stringer, Volume 1, Chapter 10, p. 149,[12]
      [...] the thousand and one sins that disgrace and deform society,
  4. (transitive) To alter the shape of by stress.
  5. (intransitive) To become misshapen or changed in shape.



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deform (comparative more deform, superlative most deform)

  1. (obsolete) Having an unusual and unattractive shape.
    Synonyms: deformed, disfigured, misshapen
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, I.xii:
      who so kild that monster most deforme, / And him in hardy battaile ouercame, / Should haue mine onely daughter to his Dame []
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 10, lines 491-492,[14]
      Sight so deform what heart of Rock could long
      Drie-ey’d behold?
    • 1785, William Cowper, The Task, London: J. Johnson, Book 1, p. 28,[15]
      The common overgrown with fern, and rough
      With prickly goss, that shapeless and deform
      And dang’rous to the touch, has yet its bloom
    • 1820, John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes, stanza 42, in Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, London: Taylor and Hessey, p. 104,[16]
      Angela the old
      Died palsy-twitch’d, with meagre face deform;