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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Something about relearning to move this way—by pretending to be a cartoon that isn’t restricted to moving in standard, human ways—is extremely effective in helping stroke patients recover. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "The Heroes of Science Who Are Unlocking the Brain," 3 Oct. 2018 But while American retailers pretend to honor the troops by slashing prices on appliances and other home goods, their Chinese counterparts are hawking discount products in celebration of Singles Day. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "Singles Day, China’s anti-Valentine’s shopping holiday, is spreading to the US," 12 Nov. 2018 Let’s pretend it’s anywhere in the ballpark of a million dollars. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Taking a page from YouTube, Snap VP Nick Bell wants to find the next generation of media stars," 25 Oct. 2018 Their alleged plan, said Angolan government officials in court documents and interviews with The Wall Street Journal, was to siphon fees and cash from the central bank while pretending to set up a $35 billion investment fund. Patricia Kowsmann, WSJ, "The $500 Million Central Bank Heist—and How It Was Foiled," 3 Oct. 2018 Now take that a step further and pretend that hammock is somehow filled with warm water and bubbles — or maybe even your favorite bath salts. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "This Hammock Bathtub Is Unlike Anything You've Ever Seen Before," 28 Aug. 2018 While dads and bosses may pretend to be unable to distinguish between the two, their brains do detect a difference. Popular Mechanics, "Can You Tell Someone's Nationality From Their Laugh?," 9 Aug. 2018 The same Vietnamese group also sent a spear phishing email to dozens of journalists, diplomats and academics while pretending to be a staffer with Cambodia’s National Election Commission, according to FireEye. Abby Seiff / Phnom Penh, Time, "Chinese State-Linked Hackers in Large Scale Operation to Monitor Cambodia's Upcoming Elections, Report Says," 11 July 2018 The woman put her credit card down while the man pretended not to notice. Weike Wang, The New Yorker, "Omakase," 6 June 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.

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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

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Statistics for pretend

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pretend

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

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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)

: 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

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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

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