phony

1 of 4

adjective

pho·​ny ˈfō-nē How to pronounce phony (audio)
variants or less commonly phoney
phonier; phoniest
: not genuine or real: such as
a(1)
: intended to deceive or mislead
(2)
: intended to defraud : counterfeit
b
: arousing suspicion : probably dishonest
something phony about the story
c
: having no basis in fact : fictitious
phony publicity stories
d
: false, sham
a phony name
e
: making a false show: such as
(1)
(2)
: specious
has a phony poetic eleganceNew Republic
phonily adverb
phoniness noun

phony

2 of 4

noun

variants or less commonly phoney
plural phonies also phoneys
: one that is phony

phony

3 of 4

verb

phonied; phonying

transitive verb

: counterfeit, fake
often used with up
a paper phonied up on the spur of the momentWilliam Faulkner

-phony

4 of 4

noun combining form

variants or less commonly -phonia
1
: sound
telephony
2
usually -phonia : speech disorder of a (specified) type
dysphonia

Examples of phony in a Sentence

Adjective a phony watch with a designer logo she always has this phony smile just before she betrays you Noun According to him, politics is full of phonies. I don't think she ever meant to help us. What a phony! Verb the terrorists were able to move around the country using phonied driver's licenses
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Democrats and much of the media are inventing a phony controversy about the matter to score political points and accomplish other policy objectives. The Editors, National Review, 7 June 2024 In addition to operating fake accounts and phony websites, the operation purchased Facebook ads targeting French and German audiences with messages about aid to Ukraine, farmers' protests and the war in Gaza, according to the European nonprofit AI Forensics. Shannon Bond, NPR, 6 June 2024
Noun
Lamar has had four diss records chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (three in the top 10), calling Drake a phony, a liar, a master manipulator, a man who has issues with his Blackness, a deadbeat father, a gambling addict, and someone hiding an 11-year-old daughter. Michael Butler, Miami Herald, 30 May 2024 Back in the day, at least here in Harford County, gamesmanship was questioned and newspapers could sniff out the phonies. Patrick Wallis, Baltimore Sun, 24 May 2024
Verb
In fact, legislators and regulators are rolling back regulations designed to protect investors, who in this case are estimated to have lost $100 billion to phony Chinese firms. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, 29 Mar. 2018 See all Example Sentences for phony 

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

perhaps alteration of fawney gilded brass ring used in the fawney rig, a confidence game, from Irish fáinne ring, from Old Irish ánne — more at anus

Noun

derivative of phony entry 1

Verb

derivative of phony entry 1 or phony entry 2

Noun combining form

borrowed from Greek -phōnia, from -phōnos "having a sound (of the kind or number specified)" (derivative of phōnḗ "sound made by something living, voice, speech, utterance") + -ia -ia entry 1 — more at phono-

First Known Use

Adjective

1889, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1902, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1940, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of phony was in 1889

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Dictionary Entries Near phony

Cite this Entry

“Phony.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phony. Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

phony

1 of 2 adjective
pho·​ny
variants also phoney
phonier; phoniest
: not genuine or real: as
a(1)
: intended to deceive or mislead
(2)
: counterfeit entry 2 sense 1
a phony $10 bill
b
: causing suspicion : probably dishonest
sounds like a phony excuse to me
c
: fictitious, false
gave a phony name to the police
phoniness noun

phony

2 of 2 noun
variants also phoney
plural phonies also phoneys
: a phony person or thing

More from Merriam-Webster on phony

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