sham

noun
\ ˈsham How to pronounce sham (audio) \

Definition of sham

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a trick that deludes : hoax feared that the deal was a sham
2 : cheap falseness : hypocrisy saw through the hollowness, the sham, the silliness of the empty pageant— Oscar Wilde
3 : an ornamental covering for a pillow
4 : an imitation or counterfeit purporting to be genuine
5 : a person who shams

Definition of sham (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : not genuine : false, feigned
2 : having such poor quality as to seem false

sham

verb
shammed; shamming

Definition of sham (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to go through the external motions necessary to counterfeit

intransitive verb

: to act intentionally so as to give a false impression : feign

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Other Words from sham

Verb

shammer \ ˈsha-​mər How to pronounce sham (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sham

Noun

imposture, fraud, sham, fake, humbug, counterfeit mean a thing made to seem other than it is. imposture applies to any situation in which a spurious object or performance is passed off as genuine. their claim of environmental concern is an imposture fraud usually implies a deliberate perversion of the truth. the diary was exposed as a fraud sham applies to fraudulent imitation of a real thing or action. condemned the election as a sham fake implies an imitation of or substitution for the genuine but does not necessarily imply dishonesty. these jewels are fakes; the real ones are in the vault humbug suggests elaborate pretense usually so flagrant as to be transparent. creating publicity by foisting humbugs on a gullible public counterfeit applies especially to the close imitation of something valuable. 20-dollar bills that were counterfeits

Verb

assume, affect, pretend, simulate, feign, counterfeit, sham mean to put on a false or deceptive appearance. assume often implies a justifiable motive rather than an intent to deceive. assumed an air of cheerfulness around the patients affect implies making a false show of possessing, using, or feeling. affected an interest in art pretend implies an overt and sustained false appearance. pretended that nothing had happened simulate suggests a close imitation of the appearance of something. cosmetics that simulate a suntan feign implies more artful invention than pretend, less specific mimicry than simulate. feigned sickness counterfeit implies achieving the highest degree of verisimilitude of any of these words. an actor counterfeiting drunkenness sham implies an obvious falseness that fools only the gullible. shammed a most unconvincing limp

Examples of sham in a Sentence

Noun He claims that the trial was a sham. Their marriage was a sham. Many people believed he could help them, but I knew he was a sham. She exposed their sham and hypocrisy. Adjective a sofa upholstered in sham leather street vendors selling sham designer handbags to gullible tourists Verb She wasn't really hurt; she was only shamming. He was shamming illness to avoid work.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Trials dragged on for years before Mr. Erdogan acknowledged that the case against the alleged underground group was a sham. New York Times, "The Art of the Lie? The Bigger the Better," 10 Jan. 2021 Republican lawmakers stumble on with their claims that the presidential election was a sham, to the point of sedition. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, "Essential California: Just leave already, 2020, and let 2021 be," 4 Jan. 2021 But the city’s insurer, commonly known as CIS, should have recognized the West Linn internal investigation was largely a sham. oregonlive, "West Linn’s insurer failed city in defense of Michael Fesser’s wrongful arrest suit, outside consultants said," 22 Dec. 2020 Even if the Trojans have driven you crazy in bumbling and blundering and trailing late to three inferior opponents, this list is a sham. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Unbeaten and unrespected, USC won’t get a shot at national championship," 15 Dec. 2020 The reality is this game was a sham, and it never should have been played on Sunday. Luke Johnson, NOLA.com, "The Saints won their 8th straight contest in what the NFL was determined to call a 'game'," 29 Nov. 2020 And if the Saints win, their second Super Bowl title will always be seen as something of a sham – through no fault of their own. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: With Denver QB fiasco, NFL refusing to acknowledge reality of COVID," 29 Nov. 2020 For Durkin, the adamant facts of money blast away the lies that surround it, the deceptions of those who covet it overweeningly, the sham of those who treat it as a badge of honor, the foolishness of those who hope to be warmed by its chilly power. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“The Nest,” Reviewed: Jude Law Plays a Banker Who Buys Into Money’s Lies," 17 Nov. 2020 To them, his outlandish behavior mirrors their sense that the game is a sham designed to hide the reality of an establishment that couldn’t give a fig for the little guy. Ron Grossman, Star Tribune, "Pondering how to parlay a Biden victory into a more united country," 29 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The sham tweet appears to have originated on the Instagram of comedic writer Cory Snearowski, who shared the fake screenshot and other purportedly fake CDC tweets in a Twitter thread. Ella Lee, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Tweet endorsing shoplifting as a way to prevent spread of COVID-19 is a fake," 24 Dec. 2020 Afterward, committee chairman state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, called the committee a sham political trial and denied Democrats were acting as a shield for the longtime speaker. Greg Bishop, Washington Examiner, "Democrats motion for, then vote against, charges against Madigan," 15 Dec. 2020 Patients in the study received a single injection of the gene therapy in one eye and a placebo, a sham injection, in the other, with the idea that the drug’s effectiveness could be determined by comparing vision changes in the two eyes. Amy Dockser Marcus, WSJ, "Gene Therapy Shows Promise for a Form of Blindness, but Is It a Cure?," 9 Dec. 2020 This Sunday, the regime of Nicolas Maduro will hold a sham parliamentary election in Venezuela. Jorge Jraissati, National Review, "Venezuela’s Sham Election," 2 Dec. 2020 Neither the real or sham device led to changes in suicidality or sleepiness. Michele Cohen Marill, Wired, "How a Vibrating Smartwatch Could Be Used to Stop Nightmares," 1 Dec. 2020 All the old techniques were very much alive: gerrymandering, annexation, precinct closures, secret deals between white political leaders that pivoted on sham public considerations. David Daley, The New Republic, "Inside the Republican Plot for Permanent Minority Rule," 15 Oct. 2020 The placebo response is a complex psychobiological phenomenon that describes the clinical improvement seen in patients taking dummy or sham medicines. Erica Smith, STAT, "The placebo response: a hidden risk to Covid-19 trials," 13 Oct. 2020 And although one paper indicated that osteopathic manipulation could alleviate low-back and pelvic pain during pregnancy, the intervention was no more effective than a sham ultrasound. Eleanor Cummins, The Atlantic, "Trump’s Doctor Comes From a Uniquely American Brand of Medicine," 6 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Other cases involved fake students and sham or fly-by-night schools. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Garland trade school owner charged with bilking VA out of $70 million," 26 Nov. 2020 In a similar effort, Bowers will randomize 24 patients to externally applied NIR or sham light and watch for behavioral and motor benefits. Gunjan Sinha, Science | AAAS, "Trials begin for a new weapon against Parkinson’s: light," 17 Sep. 2020 After the socialist Maduro won an election widely regarded as sham in 2018, the U.S. and its allies recognized Guaido as the legitimate president. Alex Vasquez, Bloomberg.com, "Venezuela Talks Deadlocked Over Proposed Election Delay," 4 Sep. 2020 But the study has no control group that can be used to compare the stem cell intervention against a placebo or sham procedure. Leigh Turner, The Conversation, "Could pressure for COVID-19 drugs lead the FDA to lower its standards?," 10 June 2020 So as protests escalate across the country, Trump played the same old political games by shaming Minneapolis’ Democrat mayor and retweeting an account urging Minnesotans to vote Democrats out of office. Ciara Nugent, Time, "‘The Edge of an Abyss.’ How the World’s Newspapers Are Responding as the U.S. Descends Into Chaos," 2 June 2020 The lawsuit claims that St. Johns criticized, socially ostracized, and publicly shamed those who resisted him. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "California sues CBS, Disney, and Criminal Minds producers over allegations of sexual misconduct on set," 27 May 2020 But the body shaming began long before the video's release. Christina Oehler, Health.com, "Billie Eilish’s Short Film ‘Not My Responsibility’ Sends a Powerful Message to Her Body Shamers," 27 May 2020 Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson, for example, condemned comments from CNN commentator Angela Rye, who has shamed black Trump supporters in the past. Fox News, "Senate candidate rips Biden's 'condescending' questioning of Trump supporters' 'blackness'," 23 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sham.' 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 sham

Noun

1677, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1681, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1702, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for sham

Noun

perhaps from English dialect sham shame, alteration of English shame

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Learn More about sham

Statistics for sham

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sham.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sham. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for sham

sham

noun
How to pronounce sham (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sham

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: something that is not what it appears to be and that is meant to trick or deceive people
: someone who deceives people by pretending to be a particular kind of person, to have a particular skill, etc.
: words or actions that are not sincere or honest

English Language Learners Definition of sham (Entry 2 of 3)

: not real

sham

verb

English Language Learners Definition of sham (Entry 3 of 3)

: to act in a way that is meant to trick or deceive people

sham

noun
\ ˈsham How to pronounce sham (audio) \

Kids Definition of sham

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : something that deceives : hoax
2 : something that is claimed to be true or real but which is actually phony
3 : a decorative covering for a pillow

Kids Definition of sham (Entry 2 of 3)

: not real : false sham concern

sham

verb
shammed; shamming

Kids Definition of sham (Entry 3 of 3)

: to act in a deceiving way
\ ˈsham How to pronounce sham (audio) \

Medical Definition of sham

: being a treatment or procedure that is performed as a control and that is similar to but omits a key therapeutic element of the treatment or procedure under investigation sham surgery, in which doctors make an incision in a patient's knee and manipulate the joint, but don't clean out fluid, debris, and torn cartilage— Liz Kowalczyk a sham injection of saline solution

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sham

noun
\ ˈsham How to pronounce sham (audio) \

Legal Definition of sham

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that is false, deceptive, misleading, or otherwise not genuine

Legal Definition of sham (Entry 2 of 2)

: not genuine : intended to mislead or deceive : false, illusory the sale for one dollar was a sham transfer of property

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Comments on sham

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