\ 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

The View discussed the college admissions cheating scam involving 50 wealthy parents on Wednesday's show. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'The View' Stars Joy Behar and Meghan McCain Got Heated Over the College Admissions Scandal," 13 Mar. 2019 Netflix Before the disastrous Fyre Festival scam, Maryann Rolle was a Bahamian woman who owned a local restaurant and sought to provide good food for locals and tourists. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "The Woman Who Became the Hero of Fyre Festival," 18 Jan. 2019 Sater also worked with the FBI to end Wall Street scams run by certain crime families. Alex Ward, Vox, "Felix Sater, the spy, criminal, and mafia-linked business executive tied to Trump, explained," 6 Dec. 2018 There were also related scams involving fake payday loans and bogus US government grants, according to the criminal complaint. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "24 people have now been sentenced in India-based phone-scam case," 24 July 2018 But this doesn't necessarily mean that phone call scams are becoming less successful. Ashley Wong, USA TODAY, "Comcast or Capital One calling? It may be a robocall scam. Here are the top 10," 6 July 2018 Lake County authorities warned residents Friday to be aware of an apparent telephone scam involving false jury duty notifications. Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, "Lake County residents warned of jury duty scam that might be burglary ruse," 15 June 2018 Earlier this month, three other Park Ridge residents were targeted in similar scams involving a man who visited their homes offering to perform roof repairs. Jennifer Johnson,, "Police: More Park Ridge residents report burglaries by visitors posting as workers," 23 Apr. 2018 That all came to an end in 2017, when Sorokin was charged with grand larceny and theft of services, amounting to an alleged total of $275,000 in scams. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, ""Soho Grifter" Anna Sorokin Enlisted a Stylist for Her Courtroom Look," 28 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Anybody can scam, that was last summer's big takeaway. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Elizabeth Holmes Is a Tragic Figure," 18 Mar. 2019 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

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

17 May 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).


a strong desire or propensity

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