im·​pos·​ture im-ˈpäs-chər How to pronounce imposture (audio)
: the act or practice of deceiving by means of an assumed character or name
: an instance of imposture
Choose the Right Synonym for imposture

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 imposture in a Sentence

He was accused of imposture.
Recent Examples on the Web Because such people are both brand-conscious and unable to detect the real thing, Miss Manners would be inclined to let the imposture pass. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 19 Dec. 2023 This imposture cows the enemy, but Hector slays Patroclus anyway, sealing everyone’s fate. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 The print revolution’s past and future, valuing an empire’s impact, a saga of inheritance and imposture from Zadie Smith, and more. Wsj Books Staff, WSJ, 1 Sep. 2023 Buy Now: Desertion on Bookshop | Amazon The Fraud, Zadie Smith (Sept. 5) Zadie Smith’s sixth novel—and first historical one—is inspired by the Tichborne Trial, a controversial case of imposture that divided Victorian England. Shannon Carlin, Time, 23 Aug. 2023 The narrator is an antihero with a genius for imposture. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 20 June 2022 By the end, this newly bold Portia, empowered by imposture, is more singer than speaker. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 21 Feb. 2022 This form of imposture has a pedigree — or a past, anyway. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, 19 Oct. 2021 Fake men can’t live: the cost of the imposture proves too high, and the good fake men—the ones like Vision—will take their own lives or let themselves be killed. Stephanie Burt, The New Yorker, 11 Mar. 2021 See More

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

Word History


Late Latin impostura, from Latin impositus, impostus, past participle of imponere

First Known Use

1537, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of imposture was in 1537

Dictionary Entries Near imposture

Cite this Entry

“Imposture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


im·​pos·​ture im-ˈpäs-chər How to pronounce imposture (audio)
: the act or conduct of an impostor
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