- (initial capital letter) a member of a Germanic people who in the 5th century a.d. ravaged Gaul and Spain, settled in Africa, and in a.d. 455 sacked Rome.
- a person who willfully or ignorantly destroys or mars something beautiful or valuable.
- (initial capital letter) of or relating to the Vandals.
- imbued with or characterized by vandalism.
- a person who deliberately causes damage or destruction to personal or public property
- (as modifier)vandal instincts
- a member of a Germanic people that raided Roman provinces in the 3rd and 4th centuries ad before devastating Gaul (406–409), conquering Spain and N Africa, and sacking Rome (455): crushed by Belisarius at Carthage (533)
1660s, “willful destroyer of what is beautiful or venerable,” from Vandals, name of the Germanic tribe that sacked Rome in 455 under Genseric, from Latin Vandalus (plural Vandali), from the tribe’s name for itself (Old English Wendlas), from Proto-Germanic *Wandal- “Wanderer.”
There does not seem to be in the story of the capture of Rome by the Vandals any justification for the charge of willful and objectless destruction of public buildings which is implied in the word ‘vandalism.’ It is probable that this charge grew out of the fierce persecution which was carried on by [the Vandal king] Gaiseric and his son against the Catholic Christians, and which is the darkest stain on their characters. [“Encyclopaedia Britannica,” 13th ed., 1926]