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

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 How to pronounce shammer (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

While elegant in these regards, the mission was something of a sham. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA says it’s building a gateway to the Moon—critics say it’s just a gate," 6 Sep. 2018 Yet this is a political climate that says facts are malleable, and expertise itself is a kind of sham — so where does that leave philosophers? Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "Our summer of fear: A conversation with Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum," 9 July 2018 Photo: marco bello/Reuters His re-election was widely panned as a sham after the government barred top rival politicians from running and used food handouts to buy votes, leading the political opposition to boycott the vote. Kejal Vyas, WSJ, "Venezuelan Leader Starts Second Term With Grim Outlook," 10 Jan. 2019 It was formally incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored ballot that was seen as a sham by many. Niniek Karmini, The Seattle Times, "Indonesia rejects rebels’ demand on Papua independence talks," 11 Dec. 2018 Harry Engels/Getty Images Michael Cohen’s guilty plea on Thursday is the strongest evidence yet that House Republicans’ probe into possible Trump-Russia collusion was nothing more than a partisan sham. Alex Ward, Vox, "Michael Cohen’s guilty plea proves the House GOP’s Russia investigation was a sham," 30 Nov. 2018 For Kremlin critics, the developments were further proof that the much-vaunted anti-corruption campaign is a sham aimed at boosting Putin’s image ahead of the elections. Marc Bennetts, Newsweek, "Why Putin’s Corruption Crackdown May Be a Pre-Election Show," 6 Mar. 2018 Matelassé Rosary coverlet and Euro shams in Ivory, from $75; pineconehill.annieselke.com. Country Living, "2015 Country Living Makeover Takeover: Buying Guide," 18 June 2015 NurPhoto via Getty Images The Russia investigation is a sham. Jane Coaston, Vox, "#QAnon, the scarily popular pro-Trump conspiracy theory, explained," 1 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The resulting sham prosecution made plain to Waring the hypocrisy of the Justice Department’s efforts. Joseph Crespino, WSJ, "‘Unexampled Courage’ Review: Showing America the Way," 18 Jan. 2019 There is no crime within their jurisdiction, forcing her -- get this -- forcing her into a sham hearing. Fox News, "Alan Dershowitz: Kavanaugh accuser must speak first," 21 Sep. 2018 Despite its sham humility, this bitter retort to the scribblers who denied him the last measure of greatness falls short for a want of tough-minded self-analysis. Jamie James, WSJ, "‘John O’Hara: Four Novels of the 1930s’ Review: Big Fish in Small Towns," 3 Jan. 2019 The Australian study, published in JAMA, included 824 women planning to undergo I.V.F. Half received acupuncture and half sham acupuncture a week before follicle stimulation and then again before and after transfer of the embryo. Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times, "Acupuncture Does Not Improve Pregnancy Rates," 17 May 2018 Nevertheless, the study found that live birth rates really didn't differ depending on whether a woman got the real or the sham acupuncture. E.j. Mundell, chicagotribune.com, "Study finds no evidence acupuncture boosts fertility treatment," 16 May 2018 Pathogen exposure and not the sham treatment changed the ants’ behavior in ways that further protected the colony. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Sick ants stay away from the kids," 26 Nov. 2018 He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Susanne Craig, The Seattle Times, "Trump engaged in suspect tax schemes as he reaped riches from father," 2 Oct. 2018 According to the indictment, the men constructed a sham security company as a front for the hacking campaign, pretending to offer penetration testing services to corporate customers. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "Ukrainian hackers arrested for stealing 15 million credit card records," 1 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ronson’s book itself was publicly shamed for heaping too much shame upon shamers. Aja Romano, Vox, "Why the Kevin Hart Oscars backlash is different from other recent public shamings," 5 Jan. 2019 The authorities and their officials were to be shamed into behaving as their moral and religious codes instructed them to behave. Ferdinand Mount, WSJ, "‘Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World’ Review: The Prophet as Politician," 1 Nov. 2018 If a woman was both, she would be shamed for it on a daily basis. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "We All Owe Monica Lewinsky an Apology," 9 July 2018 There was a story about a hotel owner publicly shaming an influencer who wanted to stay for free in return for publicity. Tess Koman, Cosmopolitan, "The Hotel This Influencer Wanted to Stay at For Free Is Now Billing Her Millions," 23 Jan. 2018 Parents in the other camp took issue with the message's delivery, claiming that the notice publicly shames parents — especially working moms, who just might be trying to get everything done and submitted before dinner. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "This Day Care's "Get Off Your Phone!" Sign Is Dividing Parents Everywhere," 2 Feb. 2017 In implementing the disclosure requirement in 2016, the British government sought to close the pesky divide with a naming-and-shaming approach. Claire Zillman, Fortune, "10,000 British Companies Revealed Their Pay Gaps. Here's What We Learned," 5 Apr. 2018 What's needed is a strategy that shames Congress, which sometimes seems beyond shame, for misspending the people's money. Author: Cal Thomas | Opinion, Anchorage Daily News, "Boldly going like no president before," 6 Mar. 2018 At a time when women are still being shamed for breastfeeding in public, Slick's maternity looks challenge the outdated and sexist notions that a woman should have to conceal her pregnant body. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Slick Woods Is Redefining Maternity Style at New York Fashion Week," 7 Sep. 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

28 Feb 2019

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 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

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 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

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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More from Merriam-Webster on sham

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sham

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sham

Spanish Central: Translation of sham

Nglish: Translation of sham for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sham for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sham

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