noun \ˈsham\

: something that is not what it appears to be and that is meant to trick or deceive people

: someone who deceives people by pretending to be a particular kind of person, to have a particular skill, etc.

: words or actions that are not sincere or honest

Full Definition of SHAM

:  a trick that deludes :  hoax <feared that the deal was a sham>
:  cheap falseness :  hypocrisy <saw through the hollowness, the sham, the silliness of the empty pageant — Oscar Wilde>
:  an ornamental covering for a pillow
:  an imitation or counterfeit purporting to be genuine
:  a person who shams

Examples of SHAM

  1. He claims that the trial was a sham.
  2. Their marriage was a sham.
  3. Many people believed he could help them, but I knew he was a sham.
  4. She exposed their sham and hypocrisy.

Origin of SHAM

perhaps from English dialect sham shame, alteration of English shame
First Known Use: 1677

Other Household Terms

cruet, curiosity, duvet, fiasco, taper, valance, whatnot



: not real

Full Definition of SHAM

:  not genuine :  false, feigned
:  having such poor quality as to seem false

Examples of SHAM

  1. <a sofa upholstered in sham leather>
  2. <street vendors selling sham designer handbags to gullible tourists>

First Known Use of SHAM




: to act in a way that is meant to trick or deceive people


Full Definition of SHAM

transitive verb
:  to go through the external motions necessary to counterfeit
intransitive verb
:  to act intentionally so as to give a false impression :  feign
sham·mer \ˈsha-mər\ noun

Examples of SHAM

  1. She wasn't really hurt; she was only shamming.
  2. He was shamming illness to avoid work.

First Known Use of SHAM



adjective \ˈsham\   (Medical Dictionary)

Medical Definition of SHAM

:  being a treatment or procedure that is performed as a control and that is similar to but omits a key therapeutic element of the treatment or procedure under investigation <sham surgery, in which doctors make an incision in a patient's knee and manipulate the joint, but don't clean out fluid, debris, and torn cartilage—Liz Kowalczyk> <a sham injection of saline solution>


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