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make-be·​lieve ˈmāk-bə-ˌlēv How to pronounce make-believe (audio)
variants or less commonly make-belief
: a pretending that what is not real is real
a fiction writer's childish willingness to immerse himself in make-believeJohn Updike


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Examples of make-believe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Oil Stain Lab’s has just listed its make-believe Half11 Prototype endurance race car for $600,000 on The Arsenale, according to The Drive. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 7 Nov. 2023 At the start, a young girl in a scarlet raincoat traipses across the grass of an English country house as a white horse gallops past, as if out of a vision or a child’s make-believe. Zachary Barnes, WSJ, 27 Oct. 2023 The first point is exactly the make-believe reality that net neutralizers want people to think exists. Michael O'Rielly, National Review, 26 Oct. 2023 This miniature Cape Cod house provides plenty of make-believe space for your child while avoiding the less-sophisticated look of plastic playhouses. Laura Kristine Miller, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Sep. 2023 In the Hamptons, summer types don’t wax on about make-believe fishing docks or get overly nostalgic about a mom-and-pop donut shop. Holly Peterson, Town & Country, 31 Aug. 2023 The magic of ‘Star Wars’ derived from George Lucas and his love of make-believe, at once childlike and hugely sophisticated, and from his myth-sized view of the absolutes of good and evil, courage and treachery. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 25 Aug. 2023 But this wasn’t Hollywood make-believe: there on a screen, in front of me, were images and video recording a living nightmare as furniture slid, objects flew and great gasps heaved from the subject of the exorcism, while an ancient priest chanted in Latin. Stephen Galloway, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Aug. 2023 View full post on Instagram Zooey gave us the full tour of the playhouse including a trip down two slides, even showing us her the make-believe office and guest house. Maggie Horton, Country Living, 5 Aug. 2023
Yet in the past, intimate scenes in theater, film and television were rarely treated with the same mindfulness as a make-believe duel. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, 17 Mar. 2023 The internet provided a fertile new stage for my proclivity for make-believe. Kira Homsher, Longreads, 14 Mar. 2023 Video-game make-believe becomes heinous when presented as realistic TV drama. Armond White, National Review, 1 Mar. 2023 Life doesn’t work out the way one wishes, even for make-believe characters. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 26 Feb. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use


1794, in the meaning defined above


1806, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of make-believe was in 1794

Dictionary Entries Near make-believe

Cite this Entry

“Make-believe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a pretending to be another person or character (as in the play of children)


2 of 2 adjective
: imaginary
was only a make-believe lion

More from Merriam-Webster on make-believe

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