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verb \ˈfān\

Simple Definition of feign

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

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

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

feigner noun

Examples of feign in a sentence

  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.>

Did You Know?

Feign is all about faking it, but that hasn't always been so. In one of its earliest senses, feign meant "to fashion, form, or shape." That meaning is true to the term's Latin ancestor: the verb "fingere," which also means "to shape." The current senses of "feign" still retain the essence of the Latin source, since to feign something, such as surprise or an illness, requires one to fashion an impression or shape an image. Several other English words that trace to the same ancestor refer to things that are shaped with either the hands, as in "figure" and "effigy," or the imagination, as in "fiction" and "figment."

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 for Students


  1. :  pretend 2 <feigning sickness>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up feign? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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