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 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 And of course, the whole impeachment process is just a sham. Fox News Staff, Fox News, "Janice Dean reacts to Cuomo leading COVID conference call with governors: ‘I’m not surprised anymore’," 28 Apr. 2021 Suu Kyi’s NLD party boycotts the elections, calling it a sham. March 30, 2011 - A civilian government is sworn in to replace the military junta. October 12, 2011 - Dozens of political prisoners are released as part of a mass amnesty. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, "Myanmar Fast Facts," 15 Apr. 2021 In those alternate visions, voting is a sham by institutional design. Peter Georgescu, Forbes, "An Unholy Attack On American Democracy," 19 Apr. 2021 In the House, the Republican Study Committee, an influential caucus of conservatives led by Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, was also quick to dismiss the American Jobs Plan as a liberal sham. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Republicans swiftly dismiss Biden infrastructure proposal in bid to avoid repeat of COVID relief defeat," 31 Mar. 2021 Repealing the Trump tax cuts would raise taxes on the middle class, meaning that Biden’s promise to not tax anyone making less than $400k/year is a sham. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Weekly Biden Report Card: Bad on border, comforting on Atlanta slayings," 20 Mar. 2021 Because beating around the bush can give your business the appearance of a sham or a scheme. John Hall, Forbes, "How Website Copy Can Help You Build Brand Trust," 21 Mar. 2021 Much of the debate seems like something of a sham for individual investors. Chris Farrell, Star Tribune, "Simple investing rules such as the 60/40 portfolio are just starting points," 13 Mar. 2021 The Shaggy and Faux Fur sets include a sham and a duvet cover, while the Flannel set includes two shams and a duvet cover. Zoe Malin, NBC News, "New and Notable: Latest launches from Dell, Athleta, BirchBox and more," 22 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective One of the few that did meet that standard saw no significant benefit in neurofeedback over a sham treatment. Ula Chrobak, Outside Online, "Can This Futuristic Headband Fix Our Sleep?," 8 May 2021 Police raided the home of a former Florida state senator believed to be connected to an investigation into a sham candidate for the state legislature that could have swayed the race in favor of the Republican candidate. Haley Victory Smith, Washington Examiner, "Police raid home of ex-Florida state senator tied to sham candidate investigation," 17 Mar. 2021 The title conjures the sham Bush-Cheney administration rationale for a bloody 2003 rampage in Iraq as being a valid punitive response to 9/11. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Two L.A. museums hold art looted during an African massacre a century ago," 3 May 2021 Partygoers were summoned from a phony organization the filmmakers created (with a fake backstory) to a sham third annual gala to battle climate change. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "Here's how that 'Bad Trip' tribute to 'White Chicks' went down with Eric André, Tiffany Haddish (spoilers!)," 4 Apr. 2021 Frank Artiles, the Republican political operative suspected of secretly arranging a sham candidate to run in a key 2020 state senate race, surrendered to a Miami-Dade County jail on Thursday to face felony campaign finance charges. Samantha J. Gross, sun-sentinel.com, "Former senator Artiles paid no-party candidate more than $40K, arrest warrant charges," 18 Mar. 2021 A few years later, in bankruptcy, Detroit tried to repudiate the $1.4 billion pension borrowing, calling it a sham transaction that used the dummy corporations to get around a legal debt limit. New York Times, "To Plug a Pension Gap, This City Rented Its Streets. To Itself.," 16 Feb. 2021 Even Johnson admitted this during his sham hearing. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Editorial: Trump's conspiracy theories about the election threaten the nation. Wisconsin Republicans don't seem to care.," 22 Dec. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Secure ribbons to sham by starting ironing in the center and working toward the edge. Sonja Carmon, Better Homes & Gardens, "How to Dress Up Plain Pillowcases with Inexpensive Ribbon Trim," 14 Apr. 2021 The largest scheme in South Florida is responsible for filing 90 sham loans that stole nearly $18 million. Andrew Boryga, sun-sentinel.com, "Lies, kickbacks and many helpers: How two fraud rings got rich quick by raiding millions in COVID relief aid," 2 Apr. 2021 The only hint of scandal during Williams’ career came when an academic fraud scheme, in which athletes were directed to sham classes, was uncovered. New York Times, "North Carolina Coach Roy Williams Retires After 3 National Titles," 1 Apr. 2021 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

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 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sham.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sham. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on sham

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sham

Nglish: Translation of sham for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sham for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sham

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