: deceit, trickery
specifically : intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right
was accused of credit card fraud
: an act of deceiving or misrepresenting : trick
automobile insurance frauds
: a person who is not what he or she pretends to be : impostor
He claimed to be a licensed psychologist, but he turned out to be a fraud.
also : one who defrauds : cheat
: one that is not what it seems or is represented to be
The UFO picture was proved to be a fraud.
Choose the Right Synonym for fraud

deception, fraud, double-dealing, subterfuge, trickery mean the acts or practices of one who deliberately deceives.

deception may or may not imply blameworthiness, since it may suggest cheating or merely tactical resource.

magicians are masters of deception

fraud always implies guilt and often criminality in act or practice.

indicted for fraud

double-dealing suggests treachery or at least action contrary to a professed attitude.

a go-between suspected of double-dealing

subterfuge suggests the adoption of a stratagem or the telling of a lie in order to escape guilt or to gain an end.

obtained the papers by subterfuge

trickery implies ingenious acts intended to dupe or cheat.

resorted to trickery to gain their ends

imposture, fraud, sham, fake, humbug, counterfeit mean a thing made to seem other than it is.

imposture applies to any situation in which a spurious object or performance is passed off as genuine.

their claim of environmental concern is an imposture

fraud usually implies a deliberate perversion of the truth.

the diary was exposed as a fraud

sham applies to fraudulent imitation of a real thing or action.

condemned the election as a sham

fake implies an imitation of or substitution for the genuine but does not necessarily imply dishonesty.

these jewels are fakes; the real ones are in the vault

humbug suggests elaborate pretense usually so flagrant as to be transparent.

creating publicity by foisting humbugs on a gullible public

counterfeit applies especially to the close imitation of something valuable.

20-dollar bills that were counterfeits

Examples of fraud in a Sentence

He was found guilty of bank fraud. He was the victim of an elaborate fraud. He claimed he was a licensed psychologist, but he turned out to be a fraud. The UFO picture was proved to be a fraud.
Recent Examples on the Web Trump civil fraud trial: Donald Trump renewed his attacks on the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial in New York and the judge’s law clerk, baselessly accusing them of political bias in a Thanksgiving Day social media post. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 24 Nov. 2023 Pop star Shakira struck a deal on the first day of her tax fraud trial in Barcelona, avoiding a potential eight year prison sentence. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports,, 21 Nov. 2023 Tuesday’s announcements cap a tumultuous few months for the broader crypto industry, following the high-profile fraud trial of Bankman-Fried and a regulatory push by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other policymakers to crack down on cryptocurrency being used to finance terrorism. Devlin Barrett, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2023 Three in 10 adults believe that President Joe Biden only won the 2020 contest because of election fraud, a Monmouth poll in June found. Max Zahn, ABC News, 20 Nov. 2023 Shakira agreed to a deal with Spanish authorities on Monday (Nov. 20) on the first day of a $15 million tax fraud trial in Barcelona that could have resulted in a significant prison sentence for the singer. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 20 Nov. 2023 Nearly two dozen committee members and club presidents are requesting an independent review of party fundraising and spending practices in the wake of criminal charges against the Cardenas siblings, who are accused of fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and other felonies. Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Nov. 2023 The latest from court Former Fox News staffer says he was fired for challenging Jan. 6 and election fraud reporting Fox News is facing another lawsuit related to its reporting during the aftermath of the 2020 election. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, 17 Nov. 2023 Santos faced his first expulsion attempt in May, when Democrats sought to remove him from Congress after he was first charged with fraud, money laundering and other crimes. Caitlin Yilek, CBS News, 16 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fraud.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English fraude, from Anglo-French, from Latin fraud-, fraus

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of fraud was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near fraud

Cite this Entry

“Fraud.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: trickery, deceit
especially : the use of dishonest methods to cheat another person of something valuable
: an act of deceiving : trick
: a person who pretends to be what he or she is not

Legal Definition


: any act, expression, omission, or concealment calculated to deceive another to his or her disadvantage
specifically : a misrepresentation or concealment with reference to some fact material to a transaction that is made with knowledge of its falsity or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity and with the intent to deceive another and that is reasonably relied on by the other who is injured thereby
: the affirmative defense of having acted in response to a fraud
: the crime or tort of committing fraud
convicted of securities fraud
see also misrepresentation

Note: A tort action based on fraud is also referred to as an action of deceit.

actual fraud
: fraud committed with the actual intent to deceive and thereby injure another

called also fraud in fact

compare constructive fraud in this entry
collateral fraud
: extrinsic fraud in this entry
constructive fraud
: conduct that is considered fraud under the law despite the absence of an intent to deceive because it has the same consequences as an actual fraud would have and it is against public interests (as because of the violation of a public or private trust or confidence, the breach of a fiduciary duty, or the use of undue influence)

called also legal fraud

compare actual fraud in this entry
equitable fraud
: constructive fraud in this entry used especially in New Jersey
extrinsic fraud
: fraud (as that involved in making a false offer of compromise) that induces one not to present a case in court or deprives one of the opportunity to be heard
also : fraud that is not involved in the actual issues presented to a court and that prevents a full and fair hearing

called also collateral fraud

compare intrinsic fraud in this entry
fraud in fact
: actual fraud in this entry
fraud in law
: fraud that is presumed to have occurred in light of the circumstances irrespective of intent to deceive
fraud in the factum
: fraud in which the deception causes the other party to misunderstand the nature of the transaction in which he or she is engaging especially with regard to the contents of an instrument (as a contract or promissory note)

called also fraud in the execution

compare fraud in the inducement in this entry
fraud in the inducement
: fraud in which the deception leads the other party to engage in a transaction the nature of which he or she understands compare fraud in the factum in this entry
fraud on the court
: fraud involving conduct that undermines the integrity of the judicial process (as by improperly influencing a judge, jury, or other court personnel)
also : extrinsic fraud in this entry
identity fraud
: the unauthorized use of another's means of identification (as name or social security number) to commit fraud
intrinsic fraud
: fraud (as by the use of false or forged documents, false claims, or perjured testimony) that deceives the trier of fact and results in a judgment in favor of the party perpetrating the fraud compare extrinsic fraud in this entry
legal fraud
: constructive fraud in this entry
: actual fraud in this entry used especially in New Jersey
mail fraud
: fraud committed by use of the postal service especially as described in title 18 section 1341 of the U.S. Code
wire fraud
: fraud committed by using a means of electronic communication (as a telephone) see also Wire Fraud Act

Latin fraud-, fraus

More from Merriam-Webster on fraud

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