pretend

verb
pre·​tend | \ pri-ˈtend \
pretended; pretending; pretends

Definition of pretend

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to give a false appearance of being, possessing, or performing does not pretend to be a psychiatrist
2a : to make believe : feign he pretended deafness
b : to claim, represent, or assert falsely pretending an emotion he could not really feel
3 archaic : venture, undertake

intransitive verb

1 : to feign an action, part, or role especially in play
2 : to put in a claim cannot pretend to any particular expertise— Clive Barnes

pretend

adjective

Definition of pretend (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : imaginary, make-believe had a pretend pal with whom he talked
2 : not genuine : mock pretend pearls
3 : being a nonfunctional imitation a pretend train for the children to play in

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for pretend

Synonyms: Verb

dissemble, dissimulate, let on, make out

Synonyms: Adjective

artificial, bogus, dummy, ersatz, factitious, fake, false, faux, imitation, imitative, man-made, mimic, mock, sham, simulated, substitute, synthetic

Antonyms: Adjective

genuine, natural, real

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for pretend

Verb

assume, affect, pretend, simulate, feign, counterfeit, sham mean to put on a false or deceptive appearance. assume often implies a justifiable motive rather than an intent to deceive. assumed an air of cheerfulness around the patients affect implies making a false show of possessing, using, or feeling. affected an interest in art pretend implies an overt and sustained false appearance. pretended that nothing had happened simulate suggests a close imitation of the appearance of something. cosmetics that simulate a suntan feign implies more artful invention than pretend, less specific mimicry than simulate. feigned sickness counterfeit implies achieving the highest degree of verisimilitude of any of these words. an actor counterfeiting drunkenness sham implies an obvious falseness that fools only the gullible. shammed a most unconvincing limp

Examples of pretend in a Sentence

Verb

He had a big stain on his shirt, but I pretended not to notice. The children pretended to be asleep. She looked like she was enjoying the party but she was just pretending. It was a mistake, and to pretend otherwise would be foolish. The children were pretending to be animals. He pretended to make a phone call. Let's just pretend for a moment. I'm your boss. What would you say to me?

Adjective

The children played on a pretend train. if you were to see the movie's pretend jewels in real life, you wouldn't be fooled for a minute
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The page creators pretended to be either U.S. or U.K. citizens, Facebook said. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Facebook Removes More Accounts Tied to Iran," 26 Oct. 2018 Hijinks — including Issa Rae pretending to be Jordan's guardian and 13-year-old Jordan trying to flirt with her clearly appalled teacher Justin Hartley — ensue. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, ""Little" Trailer Features Marsai Martin as a De-Aged Regina Hall," 9 Jan. 2019 Fans have been quick to point out some of the more problematic plot points, like when Sierra pretends to be deaf, or that non-consensual kiss. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "This Design Mistake Is The Most Annoying Part Of Sierra Burgess Is A Loser," 14 Sep. 2018 Their younger daughter, my future mother Klára, and Mici got through the war pretending to be distant relatives. András Szántó, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Budapest Is Europe's Unlikely Capital of Hedonism," 29 Aug. 2018 Not a Wolf Tweets not written by a wolf pretending to be a human man, and also not written by comedian and writer Dan Sheehan. Brendan Leonard, Outside Online, "10 Animal Twitter Accounts That Will Improve Your Life," 12 July 2018 Milwaukee residents have been receiving scam phone calls from people pretending to be sheriff's captains, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said Friday. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Alert: Milwaukee residents report scam phone calls from fake sheriff's captains," 29 June 2018 By late 2017, credulous investors were willing to buy cryptorelated investments that weren’t even pretending to be a store of value. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Bitcoin Wasn’t a Bubble Until It Was," 14 Dec. 2018 Many thought Ross wanted girls to pretend to like things to get a guy to crush on them, or even dumb themselves down so guys can feel like teachers. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "10 Things Guys Look for in Girls," 6 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Everyone assumed that people would have some fun playing around with a pretend currency for a year or two and then move on. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Remember Dogecoin? The joke currency soared to $2 billion this weekend," 8 Jan. 2018 Trump has also probably accomplished more pretend truck-driving than any of his predecessors. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump: 48 Senate Votes for Trumpcare ‘Impressive by Any Standard’," 18 July 2017 In March, GGP said part of the space currently occupied by Sears will be filled by KidZania, a children's entertainment business with miniature cities where kids can play at pretend jobs. Lauren Zumbach, chicagotribune.com, "Sears temporarily closing Oakbrook Center store," 20 June 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of pretend

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Adjective

1708, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pretend

Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French pretendre, from Latin praetendere to allege as an excuse, literally, to stretch out, from prae- pre- + tendere to stretch — more at thin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pretend

Statistics for pretend

Last Updated

4 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pretend

The first known use of pretend was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pretend

pretend

verb

English Language Learners Definition of pretend

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to act as if something is true when it is not true
: to imagine and act out (a particular role, situation, etc.)

pretend

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of pretend (Entry 2 of 2)

informal : not real

pretend

verb
pre·​tend | \ pri-ˈtend \
pretended; pretending

Kids Definition of pretend

1 : to make believe Let's pretend we're riding on a bus.
2 : to put forward as true something that is not true She will pretend friendship.

Other Words from pretend

pretender noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pretend

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pretend

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pretend

Spanish Central: Translation of pretend

Nglish: Translation of pretend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretend for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pretend

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the perfect form or example of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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