\ 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

Definition of scam (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

2 : to obtain (something, such as money) by a scam

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Other Words from scam


scammer noun

Synonyms for scam

Synonyms: Noun

bunco (or bunko), con, fiddle [chiefly British], flimflam, fraud, gyp, hustle, shell game, sting, swindle

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Examples of scam in a Sentence


She was the victim of an insurance scam. a sophisticated credit card scam


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

Authorities said a parolee with a long history of identity theft and credit card scams masqueraded as a ride-share driver downtown and cleaned out the bank accounts of at least four people after gaining access to their bank cards. William Lee,, "Fake ride-share driver cleans out bank accounts of victims in Loop, River North, authorities say," 4 Aug. 2019 The Federal Communications Commission has approved new rules that won't stop the calls, but will allow the FCC to go after perpetrators making scam calls and texts from overseas. CBS News, "FCC passes new rules against "spoof" robocalls," 2 Aug. 2019 Indiana Indianapolis: Federal court officials in the city are warning that scammers are using the court’s main phone number to scam and intimidate people. USA TODAY, "Momoa at Mauna Kea, Confederate context, Guthrie garbage tribute: News from around our 50 states," 2 Aug. 2019 The man was told the detective’s bureau would follow up, but people in these scams are rarely caught., "Man allows remote access to laptop; loses $1,000s: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 2 Aug. 2019 The nine pieces in Trick Mirror cover everything from the pervasiveness of scam culture (for example, the now-infamous Fyre Festival) to Tolentino’s stint on a reality television show as a teenager. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "Here Are the 11 New Books You Should Read in August," 30 July 2019 Election integrity experts have warned that alleged scam PACs are siphoning tens of millions of dollars in political donations into the coffers of fundraisers each year, while misleading donors. Derek Willis, ProPublica, "How Fundraisers Convinced Conservatives to Donate $10 Million — Then Kept Almost All of It.," 26 July 2019 In October, 35 state attorneys general co-signed a letter to the FCC requesting the commission increase its efforts to stop scam calls. Carina Julig, The Denver Post, "Only one state generated more complaints about robocalls than Colorado, where residents receive 2.4 million a day," 25 July 2019 Wendt also said the church has taken steps to prevent another scam from taking place in the future. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Port Washington church that was scammed out of $500K has recovered more than half of its losses," 24 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Complaints about government imposter scams are skyrocketing, reaching a record high in May, according to a new FTC report: Since 2014, consumers have complained about imposter scams far more than any other type of fraud. NBC News, "Get a call from the Social Security Administration? It's the latest government imposter scam," 13 July 2019 Liu said that there are still many criminal gangs in the China-Myanmar border area and in Southeast Asia that are trying to scam Chinese. Washington Post, "Spain extradites 94 Taiwanese to China on phone scam charges," 8 June 2019 The drama will follow revenge-seeking strippers who band together with a group of fellow exotic dancers to scam their male Wall Street clients out of thousands of dollars. Christina Dugan,, "Julia Stiles Says It’s Challenging to Watch 10 Things I Hate About You: 'I Look Away'," 5 July 2019 Windstream, the hospital’s telecom service, was unable to block the calls which appeared to be designed to scam the neighborhood’s Chinese population. Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post, "The Technology 202: Amazon is clapping back at politicians on Twitter," 18 June 2019 The book’s title refers to Troy Augustus Loudermilk, who scams his way into the program with the help of his friend Harry. The New Yorker, "What We’re Reading This Summer," 4 June 2019 Hustlers is an upcoming film about a group of strippers who scam and steal from their Wall Street clients. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Everything to Know About Lili Reinhart's New Movie "Hustlers"," 30 Apr. 2019 The comedy, based on this 2015 New York magazine article, centers on a group of strippers who scam their rich, sleazy male clients out of thousands of dollars. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu Started Filming Their Movie Hustlers, and the Pics Are Already a Hit," 28 Mar. 2019 The film revolves around a group of former strip club employees who scam their rich clients. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Cardi B Is Joining J.Lo, Constance Wu, and More in a Film About Scamming Strip Club Employees," 19 Mar. 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

9 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for scam

The first known use of scam was in 1963

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More Definitions for scam



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scam

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scam

Spanish Central: Translation of scam

Nglish: Translation of scam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scam for Arabic Speakers

Comments on scam

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


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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