sham

noun
\ ˈsham \

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

sham

adjective

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 \ 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

The government claims the charity was really a sham, set up by Holiefield and Iacobelli, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion last month. Tresa Baldas, USA TODAY, "5th person charged in UAW-Fiat Chrysler scandal: Another union exec accused of theft," 14 Mar. 2018 Laws banning conversion therapy have become increasingly popular around the country as professional groups reject the practice as a sham, and a potentially damaging one, at that. Scott Dance, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland becomes 11th state to ban conversion therapy for LGBT youth as Gov. Hogan signs bill," 15 May 2018 The Millers then signed and notarized the loan documents and returned them to the banks, instructing the banks to wire the fraudulent loan proceeds to multiple bank accounts in the name of sham corporations the brothers established. Cyrus Moulton, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago brothers who ran fake airplane loan scheme sent to prison," 8 June 2018 The prices are pretty reasonable, starting at $36, and going up to $179 for a full/queen comforter and sham set. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "American Eagle and Dormify Just Dropped the Home Decor Collaboration of Your Dreams," 8 June 2018 In his victory speech, Erdogan argued that the high turnout meant Western nations could not claim his elections were a sham. Billy Perrigo, Time, "What Erdogan’s Election Victory Means For Turkey’s Future," 25 June 2018 Read another way, the state of New York is alleging that the president's charity was a sham. Amber Phillips, Washington Post, "The president of the United States was just accused of persistent charity fraud," 14 June 2018 Long lines of voters gathered in Bogota outside polling centers on an overcast day and police frisked people in at least one site — a legacy perhaps of when voting centers were targeted by leftist rebels who considered the political system a sham. Christine Armario And Joshua Goodman, BostonGlobe.com, "Conservative tops Colombia presidential vote but runoff needed," 28 May 2018 In other words, the fire code that covers one of the world’s global capitals is a sham. Justin Davidson, Daily Intelligencer, "A Year Has Passed Since the Grenfell Tower Fire. It Could Happen Again Anytime.," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

President Trump and his supporters have long charged that the FBI conducted a sham investigation of Clinton. Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor, "Inspector general on Comey: dissecting an error in judgment," 15 June 2018 As to Doe’s specific claims about sham investigations, the university’s statement on Wednesday claims that neither the team nor the athletic department knew about her situation and thus never investigated it. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Title IX Lawsuit Over Players' Alleged Rape Adds to Michigan State's Growing Legal Troubles," 13 Apr. 2018 The bogus crash report in September 2016 was but one of dozens of sham claims that cost the insurance giant more than half-a-million dollars, prosecutors say, and led to a series of arrests on Tuesday morning. David Ovalle, miamiherald, "One Lexus, 10 crashes, none real. Rogue adjusters in Miami scammed GEICO, police say," 10 July 2018 Blogs and websites about various infestations, many of which are devoted to conspiracy theories and biologically impossible explanations, give sufferers a sense of community, but also reinforce delusions and often try to sell them on sham solutions. National Geographic, "Think Your Body Is Infested With Insects? You're Not Alone.," 22 June 2018 Prosecutors allege Pam bilked the estates of most of the proceeds from the sale of the Sanford Street home by arranging a sham transaction in which his then-girlfriend, Jasmin Deangelo, purportedly purchased the property for $140,000 in April 2015. Laura Crimaldi, BostonGlobe.com, "Pam family members go on trial for allegedly scamming elderly siblings out of Mattapan home," 13 July 2018 Over the years, taking a sugar pill, receiving a sham injection, or even just visiting a doctor has been shown to reduce pain, lower blood pressure, and relieve depression. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "I Hacked My Body So You Don't Have To," 25 June 2018 Plea bargains are the norm in Israel’s military justice system, which is characterized by prolonged pretrial detention, abuse of kids and sham trials. Lawahez Jabari, NBC News, "Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian teen on trial for hitting soldier, agrees to plea deal: report," 21 Mar. 2018 From January 2014 through October 2017, Mencia, and three members of his office staff conspired to perform sham consultations with cash-paying patients, investigators said. Susannah Bryan, Sun-Sentinel.com, "'Pill mill' doc who prescribed 1.2 million doses of opioids found guilty," 1 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Move over thigh gaps and exposed collarbones, there’s a new viral body-shaming trend in town: Barbie feet. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "What’s up with the new ‘Barbie feet’ Instagram trend?," 10 July 2018 The first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 featured a flashback in which Hannah became sick during the school day, and June was shamed by a nurse at the hospital for being a working mother. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 8 Will Make You Rage," 6 June 2018 In the years since the scandal, Lewinsky has also detailed how, in the national spotlight, she was shamed and bullied by members of the media and the public at large. Jennifer Calfas, Time, "'I Apologized to Everybody in the World.' Bill Clinton Said He Won't Privately Apologize to Monica Lewinsky," 4 June 2018 Your gift is thoughtless, lazy, tasteless. I was sufficiently shamed. Sonja Haller, USA TODAY, "What giving my mom the worst Mother's Day gift ever taught me," 10 May 2018 Now, as a result of that and other, similar posts, she’s been shamed out of the race for University of Missouri student body president, as have two other candidates for student leadership positions. Melinda Henneberger, kansascity, "Should Mizzou students be tossed from campus election for Twitter transgressions? | The Kansas City Star," 11 Mar. 2018 But more often, these women were shamed out of meetings by other participants. Katrine Jo Andersen, The New Republic, "Rejected by A.A.," 27 June 2018 The drag queen, who is in the top four on season ten of RuPaul’s Drag Race, has dealt with homophobia, body-shaming, an abusive relationship, and a struggle with gender identity long before stepping into the workroom. Megan Friedman, Seventeen, ""Drag Race" Finalist Eureka O’Hara Says It's Time for Big Girls To Rule The World," 25 June 2018 Elite companies like Amazon and Google may be shamed out of contributing to our dystopia, but the result may simply be a glitchier Big Brother from a second-rate company willing to shoulder the mantel. Maya Kosoff, The Hive, "Amazon Workers to Jeff Bezos: Stop Weaponizing Our Tech," 22 June 2018

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

Dictionary Entries near sham

shalosh seudoth

shalt

shaltie

sham

shama

shamal

shama millet

Statistics for sham

Last Updated

15 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sham

The first known use of sham was in 1677

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More Definitions for sham

sham

noun

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

sham

adjective

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 \

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

sham

adjective

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

sham

adjective
\ ˈsham \

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 \

Legal Definition of sham 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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

sham

adjective

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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