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



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

Synonyms & Antonyms for pretend

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for pretend


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 Why the heck would anyone pretend to believe in a religion that is as demanding, and often outright inconvenient, as the LDS Church is? Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 May 2022 Companies wouldn’t have to pretend that there will always be a career path moving forward. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 1 May 2022 This pub doesn’t have to pretend to have character. cleveland, 17 Mar. 2022 These emails will often pretend to come from legitimate organizations. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 4 May 2022 On the Paramount+ revival of the same name, Carly and Freddie pretend to be in a relationship in the second season's premiere episode. Dory Jackson,, 15 Apr. 2022 The Hawkins gang is trying to regroup after the tragic S3 finale and pretend everything is okay—not very successfully, although Lucas has sprouted into a high school basketball star. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 12 Apr. 2022 To pretend not to know when the debtors come to collect. New York Times, 17 Mar. 2022 Having required one such huge shift from its employees, firms can’t easily pretend that nothing has altered. Cassie Werber, Quartz, 13 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective After watching bakers twist dough in the classic shape, kids can try their hands at it using a pretend dough mixture. Karen Cicero, Good Housekeeping, 20 Apr. 2022 His mom even saved the picture from our pretend wedding. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, 19 Apr. 2022 His mom even saved the picture from our pretend wedding. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, 19 Apr. 2022 His mom even saved the picture from our pretend wedding. Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2022 His mom even saved the picture from our pretend wedding. cleveland, 19 Apr. 2022 Whereas so many other financial institutions play their pretend game of digital transformation, Chase is putting up the money to experiment and change. Ron Shevlin, Forbes, 18 Jan. 2022 Pistonov, the director of a cable systems firm, was instructing the men how to engage in what looked like a small-scale skirmish that ended in the detention of a pretend enemy fighter. NBC News, 8 Feb. 2022 This was possible because the Summer Games were held in Japan, a country that has emerged as the champion of a free society and liberal democracy in a region with many pretend democracies and autocratic states. John Lee, National Review, 6 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of pretend


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


1708, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pretend


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

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pretend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for pretend


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

More from Merriam-Webster on pretend

Nglish: Translation of pretend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretend for Arabic Speakers


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