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verb pre·tend \pri-ˈtend\

Simple Definition of pretend

  • : to act as if something is true when it is not true

  • : to imagine and act out (a particular role, situation, etc.)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of pretend

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to give a false appearance of being, possessing, or performing <does not pretend to be a psychiatrist>

  3. 2 a :  to make believe :  feign <he pretended deafness> b :  to claim, represent, or assert falsely <pretending an emotion he could not really feel>

  4. 3 archaic :  venture, undertake

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to feign an action, part, or role especially in play

  7. 2 :  to put in a claim <cannot pretend to any particular expertise — Clive Barnes>

Examples of pretend in a sentence

  1. He had a big stain on his shirt, but I pretended not to notice.

  2. The children pretended to be asleep.

  3. She looked like she was enjoying the party but she was just pretending.

  4. It was a mistake, and to pretend otherwise would be foolish.

  5. The children were pretending to be animals.

  6. He pretended to make a phone call.

  7. Let's just pretend for a moment. I'm your boss. What would you say to me?

Origin and Etymology of pretend

Middle English, from Anglo-French pretendre, from Latin praetendere to allege as an excuse, literally, to stretch out, from prae- pre- + tendere to stretch — more at thin

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of pretend

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>.



adjective pre·tend

Simple Definition of pretend

  • : not real

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of pretend

  1. 1 :  imaginary, make-believe <had a pretend pal with whom he talked>

  2. 2 :  not genuine :  mock <pretend pearls>

  3. 3 :  being a nonfunctional imitation <a pretend train for the children to play in>

Examples of pretend in a sentence

  1. The children played on a pretend train.

  2. <if you were to see the movie's pretend jewels in real life, you wouldn't be fooled for a minute>


First Known Use of pretend


PRETEND Defined for Kids


verb pre·tend \pri-ˈtend\

Definition of pretend for Students



  1. 1 :  to make believe <Let's pretend we're riding on a bus.>

  2. 2 :  to put forward as true something that is not true <She will pretend friendship.>



Seen and Heard

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to make consistent or congruous

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