noun \ ˈfrȯd \

Definition of fraud

1 a :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
b :an act of deceiving or misrepresenting :trick
  • automobile insurance frauds
2 a :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
b :one that is not what it seems or is represented to be
  • The UFO picture was proved to be a fraud.

Examples of fraud in a Sentence

  1. He was found guilty of bank fraud.

  2. He was the victim of an elaborate fraud.

  3. He claimed he was a licensed psychologist, but he turned out to be a fraud.

  4. The UFO picture was proved to be a fraud.

Recent Examples of fraud from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fraud.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of fraud

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

FRAUD Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of fraud for English Language Learners

  • : the crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person

  • : a person who pretends to be what he or she is not in order to trick people

  • : a copy of something that is meant to look like the real thing in order to trick people

FRAUD Defined for Kids


noun \ ˈfrȯd \

Definition of fraud for Students

1 :trickery, deceit
  • They got the money by fraud.
2 :an act of deceiving :trick
  • Investigators uncovered the fraud.
3 :a person who pretends to be what he or she is not You're not Santa Claus—you're a fraud.

Law Dictionary



legal Definition of fraud

1 a :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
b :the affirmative defense of having acted in response to a fraud
2 :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 anotherʼs 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
1 :constructive fraud in this entry
2 :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

Origin and Etymology of fraud

Latin fraud-, fraus

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


to speak evil of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Forms of Government Quiz

  • knupfer-painting-solon-before-croesus
  • A gerontocracy is rule by:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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