pretend

verb
pre·​tend | \ pri-ˈtend How to pronounce pretend (audio) \
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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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

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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

Prosecutors based their case on Thomas' acceptance of $500 in cash at a coffee shop and recordings of that exchange, as well as other conversations with the official, who was pretending to offer campaign donations on behalf of a county contractor. Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ex-Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny Thomas charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, disorderly conduct," 19 June 2019 The hapless race car driver who pretended not to speak English has been in cahoots with the actress the entire time to get revenge for his father's racing accident that took his legs, which happened because of Malcolm cutting safety corners. Andrea Reiher, refinery29.com, "How Netflix's Murder Mystery Ends, In Case You're Curious But Not That Curious," 15 June 2019 These clinical role-playing videos consist of everything from virtual vision testing and Reiki healing to pretend gynecologic exams. Karen Pallarito, Health.com, "How Does ASMR Work? The Science Behind Those Brain-Tingling Sounds," 6 June 2019 One, an 11-year-old boy named Ahmed, was obsessed with weapons at the start of the film, using an old rifle to pretend to shoot at planes flying overhead, said Al-Salami. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "'No One Really Cares' About Yemen, Says Save the Children CEO," 4 June 2019 Riley singled in the second but made a rookie mistake when he was fooled by shortstop Hernan Perez, who pretended to field a throw at second on Brian McCann’s fly ball to fight field. Charles Odum, The Seattle Times, "Freeman’s HR lifts Braves to 4-3 win over Brewers in 10th," 18 May 2019 Kelly first looked for help from Florida Georgia Line, who pretended not to know her. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Wait, Why Did Kelly Clarkson Throw Shade at Paula Abdul During the Billboard Music Awards?," 2 May 2019 There’s a comedy in development for New Line Cinema about a guy who pretends to be an NBA draft pick. Dylan Scott, Vox, "LeBron James, the most important athlete in America, explained," 4 Aug. 2018 The aggravation isn't limited to scammers pretending to be from the IRS or Social Security. Tali Arbel, chicagotribune.com, "FCC approves new weapon in war on robocalls. But 'then the scammers find a new way.'," 6 June 2019

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

24 Jun 2019

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)

informal : not real

pretend

verb
pre·​tend | \ pri-ˈtend How to pronounce pretend (audio) \
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

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