feign

verb
\ ˈfān How to pronounce feign (audio) \
feigned; feigning; feigns

Definition of feign

transitive verb

1a : to give a false appearance of : induce as a false impression feign death
b : to assert as if true : pretend He feigned that he was not feeling well so that he could leave the party early.
2 archaic
b : to give fictional representation to
3 obsolete : disguise, conceal

intransitive verb

: pretend, dissemble He told the truth because he was no good at feigning.

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Other Words from feign

feigner noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

The Shape of the History of Feign

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.

Examples of feign in a Sentence

I wince, feigning interest in a TV Guide and mumbling a hello. — Douglas Coupland, Generation X, 1991 Success keeps her busy. "Relaxation?" she asks, feigning puzzlement. "What's that?" — Jennifer Johnston, New Woman, November 1990 … 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 I would never feign illness just to get out of a test.
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Recent Examples on the Web Elizabeth is slow off the mark and feigning tears when the coal slurry avalanche smothers the children of Aberfan, Wales, a real and nationally traumatizing disaster in 1966. Washington Post, "The British royal family is struggling through scandals. Can ‘The Crown’ help?," 27 Dec. 2019 Mackie feigned outrage about his costar’s hijacking of his Instagram takeover. Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, "Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan Start Production on The Falcon and the Winter Solider," 6 Nov. 2019 As linemen Zach Shackelford, Parker Braun and Sam Cosmi held downfield blocks, Johnson feigned left then cut toward the right sideline. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Texas’ Roschon Johnson is just getting started," 16 Oct. 2019 Marina, having followed Ander up to ‘check on the goats’ once commented on the brightness, and Ander feigned unawareness, worrying what might be wrong with the egg and how Aestas could react. cleveland, "Emerald Forest-wind: A story from Write About Now," 19 Nov. 2019 The ability to feign another’s identity with voice is easier than ever with new audio tools and increased reliance on call centers that offer services (as opposed to going to the bank and talking to a teller face-to-face, say). Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "A new kind of cybercrime uses AI and your voice against you," 31 Aug. 2019 Trump pounds his chest feigning that the positive economy rests magically upon his shoulders. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Remembering the Black 14; Where was the outcry?; Give credit where credit is due (10/14/19)," 14 Oct. 2019 Contrast that with football, where players feign fouls to gain control of the ball. The Economist, "Boris Johnson, his buddy and a boatload of public money," 26 Sep. 2019 Credico accused Stone of getting caught up in his own public exaggerations, feigning back-channel connections to Assange that didn’t exist and then naming Credico as that connection in order to maintain the story. Ashraf Khalil, sun-sentinel.com, "Stone cited Nixon as he urged witness to stonewall Congress," 7 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'feign.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of feign

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for feign

Middle English feynen, feignen "to make, fabricate, make a likeness of, dissemble, pretend to be," borrowed from Anglo-French feign-, stem of feindre, going back to Latin fingere "to mold, fashion, make a likeness of, pretend to be," going back to Indo-European *dhi-n-ǵh- (whence also Old Irish con-utuinc "builds, constructs"), present tense derivative of *dhei̯ǵh- "knead, shape," whence Gothic digan "to knead, form from clay," Old Church Slavic ziždǫ, zĭdati "to build," Lithuanian žiedžiù, žiẽsti "to form, shape (from clay)" (Balto-Slavic with metathesis of stop consonants), Armenian edēz "(s/he) heaped up," Sanskrit pari…déhat "will cover over, smear over"

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Time Traveler for feign

Time Traveler

The first known use of feign was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

4 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Feign.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feign. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for feign

feign

verb
How to pronounce feign (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of feign

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

feign

verb
\ ˈfān How to pronounce feign (audio) \
feigned; feigning

Kids Definition of feign

: pretend sense 2 feigning sickness

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More from Merriam-Webster on feign

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for feign

Spanish Central: Translation of feign

Nglish: Translation of feign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of feign for Arabic Speakers

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