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 Mantha is among a group of Wings skating in the metro Detroit area since September, trying to feign games with other NHL players who live in the area. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings Anthony Mantha on rebuild: 'We want to finish it this year'," 31 Dec. 2020 Other families, too bereaved to feign celebration, have decided to cancel the holidays altogether. Washington Post, "Hundreds of thousands of families spend holidays with an empty seat at the table," 22 Dec. 2020 Activists have lain on the granite to feign death and raise awareness of police brutality. Pamela Wood, baltimoresun.com, "Lawyers Mall, the state capital’s First Amendment gathering space, to reopen after two years of repairs," 27 Nov. 2020 When the topic of high-scoring football games arose, Indiana defensive coordinator Kane Wommack tried to feign ignorance. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "IU football defensive coordinator doesn't want scoreboards lighting up," 15 Oct. 2020 The Series, a drama that follows two male university students who feign a relationship, then end up falling in love. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, "How Milk Tea Became an Anti-China Symbol," 13 Oct. 2020 The producers of the Emmys accidentally confirmed Hollywood’s obvious problems with nurturing Latinx talent in a moment designed to feign support. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "The Emmys Failed To Nominate Latinx Actresses. So They Used America Ferrera As A Prop," 21 Sep. 2020 So now, TikTok just has to feign happiness about partnering with Oracle. Owen Thomas, SFChronicle.com, "Oracle didn’t get a prize in TikTok deal," 16 Sep. 2020 And despite her attempt to feign humility by outing herself, many reported that colleagues close to Krug were prepared to do so, pushing her over the edge to take responsibility. Erin Corbett, refinery29.com, "Jessica Krug Pretended To Be Black Her Entire Career & She Outed Herself In A Medium Post," 4 Sep. 2020

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,",Armenian dizanem "[I] heap up"), 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," Tocharian B tsik- "fashion, shape, build," Sanskrit pari … déhat "will cover over, smear over"

Note: See also etymologies at dough, paradise, and thigmotropism.

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Learn More about feign

Time Traveler for feign

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

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Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Feign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feign. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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