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verb \ˈfān\

Simple Definition of feign

  • : to pretend to feel or be affected by (something)

Full Definition of feign

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  pretend, dissemble

  3. transitive verb
  4. 1 a :  to give a false appearance of :  induce as a false impression <feign death> b :  to assert as if true :  pretend

  5. 2 archaic a :  invent, imagine b :  to give fictional representation to

  6. 3 obsolete :  disguise, conceal

feign·er noun

Examples of feign

  1. I wince, feigning interest in a TV Guide and mumbling a hello. —Douglas Coupland, Generation X, 1991

  2. Success keeps her busy. “Relaxation?” she asks, feigning puzzlement. “What's that?” —Jennifer Johnston, New Woman, November 1990

  3. … Brad would sometimes clown or feign clumsiness just to crack her composed expression with a blush or a disapproving frown. —John Updike, Trust Me, 1987

  4. <I would never feign illness just to get out of a test.>

Origin of feign

Middle English, from Anglo-French feign-, stem of feindre, from Latin fingere to shape, feign — more at dough

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of feign

assume, affect, pretend, simulate, feign, counterfeit, sham mean to put on a false or deceptive appearance. assume often implies a justifiable motive rather than an intent to deceive <assumed an air of cheerfulness around the patients>. affect implies making a false show of possessing, using, or feeling <affected an interest in art>. pretend implies an overt and sustained false appearance <pretended that nothing had happened>. simulate suggests a close imitation of the appearance of something <cosmetics that simulate a suntan>. feign implies more artful invention than pretend, less specific mimicry than simulate <feigned sickness>. counterfeit implies achieving the highest degree of verisimilitude of any of these words <an actor counterfeiting drunkenness>. sham implies an obvious falseness that fools only the gullible <shammed a most unconvincing limp>.

FEIGN Defined for Kids


verb \ˈfān\

Definition of feign


  1. :  pretend 2 <feigning sickness>

Seen and Heard

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February 7, 2016

a slight offense

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