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.

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Prisoners at Angola did not dispute that some might occasionally feign illness. Tim Golden, ProPublica, "Inside the U.S.’s Largest Maximum-Security Prison, COVID-19 Raged. Outside, Officials Called Their Fight a Success.," 24 June 2020 And William has to feign still being a part of the throuple for political reasons. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "From throuples to secession, the most shocking storylines on season 2 of The Politician," 20 June 2020 As Arnott probes the corruption, Kate feigns friendship with Gates. Mike Hughes, Cincinnati.com, "Here's what you need to watch on TV this week: April 19-25," 19 Apr. 2020 Even when a bullet’s strike was undeniable, Donna said, most men would feign an injury, calling for comrades to transport them to the medical tent and the attention of the volunteer nurses. Daniel Mason, The Atlantic, "For the Union Dead," 6 Apr. 2020 Michael, sitting in a chair, feigned that one of the computer monitors had broken. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "How Michigan State football's Dowell brothers hope to push each other, now into NFL," 24 Apr. 2020 Meanwhile, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor are busy peppering advocates with difficult questions as Elena Kagan strategically feigns confusion to actually straighten counselors out. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Neil Gorsuch is gunning for most irreverent Supreme Court justice," 3 Mar. 2020 Young, without hesitation, took a three-step drop and feigned a throw. Ron Kroichick, SFChronicle.com, "Ex-49ers QB Steve Young plays to the crowd in final round of Pebble Beach Pro-Am," 9 Feb. 2020 Equality Labs’ Soundarajan says social media companies cannot feign ignorance on the issue because her group and others are flagging troublesome content. Billy Perrigo, Time, "It Was Already Dangerous to Be Muslim in India. Then Came the Coronavirus," 3 Apr. 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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about feign

Time Traveler for feign

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about feign

Statistics for feign

Last Updated

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Feign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feign. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on feign

What made you want to look up feign? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!