\ˈfān \
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

a : invent, imagine

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

In Capitol Hill hallways, Republican lawmakers avoid reporters’ questions about the allegations against Trump and feign ignorance regarding the president’s tweets on the matter. Astead W. Herndon, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump seems to have insulated himself from MeToo movement," 22 Feb. 2018 On Monday, the defense tried to cast Constand as an opportunist who baited Cosby by feigning romantic interest in him. Michael R. Sisak, BostonGlobe.com, "Cosby accuser denies framing him, knowing key witness," 17 Apr. 2018 On Monday, the defense also tried to cast Constand as an opportunist who baited Cosby by feigning romantic interest in him. Michael R. Sisak, chicagotribune.com, "Bill Cosby's accuser denies framing him, knowing key witness," 16 Apr. 2018 That Rouhani and other government officials feign to oppose the acid attacks is as a result of the huge protests they have been faced with. Madeline Grant, Newsweek, "Iran’s Rouhani Promises “Harshest Possible Sentence” for Acid Attack Perpetrators," 27 Oct. 2014 And Durant sat there shaking his head, feigning disbelief. Al Saracevic, San Francisco Chronicle, "Warriors throw a championship street party in Oakland," 12 June 2018 The former intelligence chief claims in the book that the Pakistani military knew ahead of the 2011 United States raid to capture and kill bin Laden and had received a payment for its cooperation, while feigning surprise. New York Times, "Pakistani Ex-Spy Chief Faces Inquiry Over Book With Indian Counterpart," 29 May 2018 This season, the FA introduced retrospective two-match bans for players found guilty of diving or feigning injury. SI.com, "VIDEO: Arsenal & Tottenham Target Malcom Wins Penalty With Embarrassing Dive Against Lyon," 29 Jan. 2018 The only surprise is that no one can any longer feign surprise that juries are looking elsewhere for artistic merit. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Tony Award nominations reflect an anemic year for original ideas. Here's a critic's take on the bright spots," 1 May 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near feign






feigned issue


Statistics for feign

Last Updated

25 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for feign

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

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More Definitions for feign



English Language Learners Definition of feign

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


\ˈfān \
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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