\ ˈskam How to pronounce scam (audio) \

Definition of scam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation an insurance scam


scammed; scamming; scams

Definition of scam (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to deceive and defraud (someone) … the law firm had got the lucrative job of defending the corporate head of a savings and loan that had scammed another thousand or so people out of their savings …— Joseph Wambaugh
2 : to obtain (something, such as money) by a scam A Boston hedge fund manager who scammed millions of dollars from friends, family and other investors in what authorities say was a Ponzi scheme has been sent to prison for more than 14 years.The Worcester (Massachusetts) Telegram & Gazette

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Synonyms for scam

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of scam in a Sentence

Noun She was the victim of an insurance scam. a sophisticated credit card scam Verb The company scammed hundreds of people out of their life savings. I could tell they were scamming you and charging too much. They scammed a lot of money from unwary customers.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tax professionals are being warned once again to beware of phishing scams that are commonly used by thieves to gain control of their computers. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Tax scams try new tricks to steal refunds," 19 Feb. 2020 More ways to protect yourself from scams Want more tips like these? NBC News, "How to avoid falling victim to a coronavirus phishing email attack," 18 Feb. 2020 Please don’t say that, even off-hand, even tongue-in-cheek.’’ Error 0: As with so many things being talked about around the majors as spring training gets started, this all stems from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scam in 2017 and 2018. Howard Fendrich,, "MLB players hammer Rob Manfred for dismissing trophy as ‘piece of metal’," 17 Feb. 2020 In 2013, he was sentenced to nine years for similar roof repair scams in Cooke and Grayson Counties, but only served three years. Fox News, "Texas man arrested after conning Vietnam vet, senior citizens for thousands in roof repair scam: police," 16 Feb. 2020 The failure of insurers to take prompt action against Williams, and the ease of his fraud, led ProPublica to look at how aggressively such scams are pursued. Marshall Allen, ProPublica, "We Showed How Easy It Is to Commit Health Care Fraud. Now Senators Want to Close the Loophole.," 14 Feb. 2020 How to avoid scams Prosecutors urge consumers not to fall for unsolicited sales pitches and urge the following: Watch out for immediacy. Elizabeth Zavala,, "San Antonio roofing company owners sentenced to prison in scam targeting mostly elderly," 10 Feb. 2020 Reported getting bested by business and debt relief scams in greater numbers. Nerd Wallet, oregonlive, "How to recognize, and recover from, online scams," 8 Feb. 2020 The mini-tower is one of the few century-old memorials to the early American scam culture. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, "A hundred years ago, a swindler fooled a Texas city. The results still stand," 6 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Other catfish want to scam money from their victims, or the catfishing is the first step in a plan to kidnap or physically abuse them. Adryan Corcione, Teen Vogue, "9 Signs You’re Being Catfished," 21 Jan. 2020 Turns out their feel-good story was a fraud; the three of them were working together to scam the public. CBS News, "How the crowdsourcing website GoFundMe is changing charity," 22 Dec. 2019 The resident suspected the men damaged the vehicle and then approached him to fix it in an effort to scam him., "Northbrook man suspected a scam when 3 men offered to fix his vehicle that had no previous damage before they approached him: Police," 25 Nov. 2019 MgBodile and others also allegedly tried to scam a company out of $350,000 using an email scheme, according to the DOJ. Fox News, "Georgia man charged with scamming woman out of more than $6.5M with fake online relationship," 28 Nov. 2019 Other people think the poor are trying to scam them. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Heidi Hynes, Transplanted Crusader for the Poor, Dies at 51," 16 Dec. 2019 Voting took place Sunday, during which Bong was also tapped as best director, while his Korean comedy about a poor family that scams a rich one earned best foreign film honors. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Parasite' Voted Best Picture by Toronto Film Critics Association," 9 Dec. 2019 The first part of the movie, not unlike a Scorsese gangster film, is all fun and games, as a poor family, the Kims, scam their way into the service of a wealthy family, the Parks. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "The Irishman and Parasite: Two Paths for the Hustle," 11 Dec. 2019 Little black dresses are slimming — and little black feathers scam the eye. Natalie Angier, New York Times, "Ultra-Black Is the New Black," 11 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scam.' 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 scam


1963, in the meaning defined above


1963, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scam


origin unknown

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Statistics for scam

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Scam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for scam


How to pronounce scam (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of scam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people



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

: to deceive and take money from (someone)
: to get (something, such as money) by deceiving someone

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More from Merriam-Webster on scam

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scam

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scam

Spanish Central: Translation of scam

Nglish: Translation of scam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scam for Arabic Speakers

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