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

Until recently, social media platforms could feign ignorance about the scope and impact of harmful content on their sites. Alexander Heffner, WIRED, "Greed Is to Blame for the Radicalization of Social Media," 30 June 2019 Kenyans feigned concern on Twitter, using the hashtag #FindPresidentUhuru. The Economist, "China is thinking twice about lending to Africa," 29 June 2019 Brandon Lowe feigned an attempt home, but thought it safer to stay at third when Laureano’s throw sailed into catcher Beau Taylor’s glove. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "Chapman, Laureano make big plays in A’s win," 22 June 2019 The hognose snake will feign death by opening its mouth, rolling over on its back, and writhing around. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "'Famous' North Carolina 'Zombie' Snake Species Likes to Play Dead Before Striking Repeatedly," 11 June 2019 Some team members jumped into the river and began waving their arms in feigned distress. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "Yosemite rescue team jumps in a river — so you’ll survive if you do the same," 14 June 2019 Stefon Diggs bobs and bounces, feigning a cut in his second-row chair. Alex Prewitt, SI.com, "Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs Just Need Someone to Throw Them the Damn Ball," 10 Jan. 2018 My advice to people traveling is to never feign sophistication. WSJ, "How Red Bull North America’s President Travels," 4 Dec. 2018 Told that three recent World Cup champions — France in 1998, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014 — had celebrating their titles by crashing out in the group stage of the next World Cup, Löw feigned ignorance and confidence at the same time. Andrew Das, New York Times, "Germany’s World Cup Is Saved in the Blink of an Eye (and Flick of a Foot)," 24 June 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

fei

Feiffer

feifteen

feign

feigned

feigned issue

feijoa

Statistics for feign

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for feign

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

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More Definitions for feign

feign

verb

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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