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 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 According to prosecutors, the 21-year-old Breckel persuaded them to send the nude photos by feigning a romantic interest in them, offering money or threatening them. chicagotribune.com, "Southern Illinois man gets 35 years for blackmailing girls for nude photos," 12 July 2019 See if the blue death-feigning beetle will do its possum trick in your open palm. Steve Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Hold a giant cockroach (if you want) in new ‘Fantastic Bug Encounters!’ at the Field Museum," 26 June 2019 Smith sent Rice defensive back Prudy Calderon's head spinning with an inside-out jab step, feigning outside then streaking down the middle of the field. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "In WR Jake Smith, Texas has yet another offensive weapon," 15 Sep. 2019 But while the Orioles were at bat in the eighth inning, Palmer put his hand to his throat and feigned choking — perhaps to ward off any evil vibes. Chris Kaltenbach, baltimoresun.com, "The Orioles’ Jim Palmer pitched a no-hitter 50 years ago, and he wasn’t about to let Reggie Jackson ruin it," 16 Aug. 2019 Hart feigning confusion at Lil Nas’s gesture to make other Lil Nases in waiting feel like actual humans instead of moving targets was disingenuous at best (though par for Hart’s course) and dangerous at worst. Michael Andor Brodeur, BostonGlobe.com, "On the Internet, microaggressions can be freeze-framed and studied," 6 Sep. 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.

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"), 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"

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

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Feign.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feigning. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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

to assail by words or arguments

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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!