\ 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

What's more, the conspiracy theory suggests, the entire crash was an insurance scam gone wrong. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Wild Conspiracy That the Titanic Never Sank," 27 Feb. 2019 In a Facebook post today, the brothers alerted their 973,573 followers that there's a scam circulating wherein someone who is decidedly not from their company tries to offer their services. Kaitlin Menza, House Beautiful, "There's A Property Brothers Scam Circulating On The Internet," 25 Jan. 2019 After all, the whole thing couldn’t just be a ridiculous scam if there were grownups in the room like Mattis on the board of directors. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "There never were any “adults in the room”," 21 Dec. 2018 But, also be prepared for a lesson about how corrupt and scam-ridden the cryptocurrency world has become. Morgen Peck, Glamour, "Cryptocurrency Is Not Just a Boys' Club," 11 Dec. 2018 Find out more information about this or other scams with the BBB Scam Tracker. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "New Gift Card Scam Wipes Cards Before You Can Even Give Them, Warns the BBB," 7 Dec. 2018 According to Vice, the second arrest was the result of another alleged scam that McFarland launched while out on bail. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Fyre Festival Founder Billy McFarland Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison," 11 Oct. 2018 Thanks in part to this laissez faire approach, and thanks in part to pressure to keep user counts high, Twitter also did little to stop the spread of bots, which have been used to scam users, influence elections, and generally drive everyone nuts. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Is Twitter Good Now?," 13 July 2018 Ginsberg noted that if a user is reported as asking for money, they will be banned in order to stop scams. CBS News, ""The world has really changed" when it comes to online dating," 13 July 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

8 Mar 2019

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

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).


of or relating to a parable or parabola

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