Graffiti is a type of deliberate application of a media made by humans on any surface, both private and public. Graffiti can also refer to website defacements, however, it usually takes the form of publicly painted art, drawings or words. When done without a property owner’s consent it constitutes vandalism, although in many countries the owner must press charges before it would be considered a crime.
Graffiti has existed at least since the days of ancient civilizations such as classical Greece and the Roman Empire.
The word “graffiti” expresses the plural of “graffito”, although the singular form has become relatively obscure and is largely used in art history to refer to works of art made by scratching the design on a surface. Another related term is sgraffito, a way of creating a design by scratching through one layer of pigment to reveal another one beneath. All of these English words come from Latin, most likely descending from “graffiato”, the past participle of “graffiare” (to scratch); ancient graffitists scratched their work into walls before the advent of spray-paint, as in murals or frescoes. These words derive in their turn from the Greek γραφειν (graphein), meaning “to write”. Historians continue to speculate over the vexing question as to where the term “graffiti” first referred to this form of marking.