\ˈskam \

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

But customers said World Patent Marketing was just a scam. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "The many scandals of Trump’s new acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, explained," 14 Nov. 2018 The most common scams involve breeders claiming that their dogs are purebreds without offering paperwork showing that the dogs have been registered with the AKC. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, "How Queen Elizabeth Was Fooled by a Fake Purebreed Dog," 18 Sep. 2018 Then there are the scams, which Lingon and her colleagues often hear about after the fact. Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, "How to Spot Fake Jewelry, According to the Experts," 17 Sep. 2018 Chipotle has confirmed that an online ad offering $100 in free Chipotle is a scam, after dozens of people claimed to have already fallen for the stunt. Alexandra Deabler, Fox News, "Chipotle responds to gift card scam that is leaving people 'heartbroken'," 31 July 2018 The Federal Communications Commission voted last year to allow telephone carriers to block robocalls that appear to be scams. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Could a tsunami of robocalls be heading to our cell phones?," 5 July 2018 The original scam seems too preposterous to have worked. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Forced to Perform As Aretha Franklin," 2 July 2018 For instance, the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened dozens of investigations into initial coin offerings, in which companies sell digital tokens that can be redeemed for goods and services, because of suspicions that many are scams. Bloomberg,, "Justice Department opens criminal probe into price manipulation of Bitcoin, other digital currencies," 24 May 2018 With an average sale price of $250, and after sending $90 for each permit to Club IDL USA, the scam would have generated about $130,000 in revenue and $83,200 in profit for Molen and Cazares., "Insurance agent got off easy because of the victims his scam targeted (Commentary)," 28 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Any attempt to defraud or scam others is in clear violation of our terms of service and strictly prohibited. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Internet rallies around VoiceoverPete after he gets booted from Fiverr," 9 Nov. 2018 Below are examples of impostor accounts, these impostors attempt to harass & scam individuals. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Online Scammers Won't Stop Impersonating This Four-Star Army General," 14 Aug. 2018 Business Email Compromise scams proliferate because more business is being done online, officials said. Lisa J. Huriash,, "Feds arrest 23 in S. Florida business email scheme," 14 June 2018 Dow narrowly lost his re-election bid to council last fall, so he's been trying to scam his way back onto the public dole. Mark Naymik,, "CLE Chatter: Complaining costs Bay Village new library (for now); TJ Dow proves he's still deplorable; and other tidbits from our town," 27 Apr. 2018 In response, Panera Information Security Director Mike Gustavison accused Houlihan of trying to scam the company, according to screenshots of emails published by Houlihan in his blog post yesterday. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Panera accused security researcher of “scam” when he reported a major flaw," 3 Apr. 2018 These callers are often trying to scam us in some way. Carol Motsinger,, "We got about a billion robocalls in Ohio last year. Yes, a billion.," 21 Mar. 2018 Or a pyramid scheme is like some entity that is intending to scam people by showing false returns that are based on new money coming in. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Chain CEO Adam Ludwin answers cryptocurrency questions on Too Embarrassed to Ask," 14 Mar. 2018 General Complaint, Forest Drive: A man reported on Feb. 10 that someone tried to scam him and his Facebook friends by posing as him on Face Book Messenger. Joan Rusek,, "Residents report credit card and Facebook identity theft: Chagrin Falls police blotter," 15 Feb. 2018

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

29 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

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