\ 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 district declined to renew the school, which prosecutors said played a major role in the alleged A3 scam. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "With less charter money, large budget cuts are ahead for Dehesa School District," 28 June 2019 David Johnson, who ran one of the nonprofits involved in the scam, also was found guilty on federal charges. Tim Evans, Indianapolis Star, "5 housing schemes that dragged down Indianapolis neighborhoods," 28 June 2019 Paul Randall, another principal figure in the scam, cooperated with the federal government, spent less than a year in jail and has now been released. CBS News, "Men expose billion-dollar back surgery scam involving doctor kickbacks and fake hardware," 21 June 2019 The suspects arrested in Israel have denied involvement in the scam and are awaiting trial in Israel. Washington Post, "How scammers used a silicone mask and Skype to impersonate a French minister and steal $90 million," 21 June 2019 Making the Giannulli sisters' fate feel even more uncertain: USC is preventing the children of parents embroiled in the scam from enrolling in classes while their cases are under review. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "A Casualty of the College Admissions Scandal? The Giannulli Sisters's Boyfriends," 23 May 2019 Riddell was among 50 people charged last month in the scam, which embroiled elite universities across the country and laid bare the lengths to which status-seeking parents will go to secure their children a coveted spot. Alanna Durkin Richer, The Seattle Times, "Test taker pleads guilty in college admissions bribery scam," 13 Apr. 2019 Learn how to identify different types of scams and use resources to plan ahead. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Golf tournament raises money for The Elizabeth Hospice," 24 June 2019 Because blockchain platforms provide a layer of anonymity to cryptocurrency users, concerns about money laundering scams and the ability to divert money to fund terrorism have come up with other digital currencies. Clare Duffy, CNN, "Thanks, Facebook. More cryptocurrency regulations are coming," 19 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

12 Jul 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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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