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

Every feature mined the same ironic vein: The world’s a joke, a sham, a tale told by an idiot. David Von Drehle, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Mad magazine is dying — maybe we should worry," 7 July 2019 Starting this summer, West Elm will offer RTR subscribers 26 exclusive home bundles for the bedroom and living room, including decorative pillows, quilts, coverlets, shams, and more. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Rent the Runway and West Elm Partner to Create Gorgeous, Rentable Home Essentials," 7 Mar. 2019 After the Journal’s investigation, Theranos and Holmes pushed back hard, and for months refused to acknowledge that its machines were effectively a sham. Ken Sweet, BostonGlobe.com, "Holmes surrenders Theranos, pays $500K after ‘massive fraud’," 14 Mar. 2018 The book was a sham, perpetrated by minister friends of Monk’s. David S. Reynolds, The New York Review of Books, "The Popery Panic," 18 Apr. 2019 The full set comes with a duvet cover, a top sheet, a fitted sheet, and two pillow shams in multiple sizes, colors, and patterns. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "These Top Sheets Snap to Your Duvet, So You Never Get Tangled Up in Bed Again," 22 Feb. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The lawsuit was the first time that all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Federal Trade Commission joined together to shut down sham charities, the attorney general said. J. Edward Moreno, azcentral, "AG: $2.5M settlement against sham nonprofits to be distributed to actual cancer centers," 21 June 2019 By acquiring Anthony Davis and, as of Thursday, clearing the books to create enough money to sign a max-value player once the NBA’s sham free agency moratorium is lifted on Sunday, another super team is forming around LeBron James in Hollywood. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: The real issue the Lakers present to the Warriors this summer," 28 June 2019 Instead, there is torture, a sham trial, and a gulag (called laogai). Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 20 June 2019 Phone numbers listed on the fake sites and emails are usually routed to Black Cube’s Tel Aviv headquarters, where staffers answer phones pretending to be employees of the sham companies, the people said. Jacquie Mcnish, WSJ, "Black Cube: The Bumbling Spies of the ‘Private Mossad’," 18 June 2019 And when the electrode positions were reversed, the scientists saw a corresponding decrease in measured creativity compared with the sham group. The Economist, "Zapping the brain improves creativity," 14 June 2019 Meanwhile, the company used bribes and kickbacks, including paying sham speaker fees, to get doctors to become prolific prescribers of the dangerous drug. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Lap-dances, kick-backs, and debt: Infamous opioid maker files for bankruptcy," 11 June 2019 Prosecutors say the video was just one of the dubious tactics Insys used to boost profits which also included bribing doctors by paying them for sham speaking engagements. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "Opioid maker Insys first drug company to file for bankruptcy after $225 million settlement," 10 June 2019 The trades were sham transactions whose sole purpose appeared to be to illicitly convert rubles into pounds and dollars — some $10 billion worth. ProPublica, "Why Did Deutsche Bank Keep Lending to Donald Trump? — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast," 22 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Feminists are depicted as promoting female body positivity on the one hand and cruelly body shaming men on the other. Glen Jankowski, Quartzy, "An epidemic of body shaming is taking its toll on men’s mental health," 11 July 2019 That, however, would leave a lasting mark on social media as other adults post parent-shaming videos of you and your screaming child. Scott Craven, azcentral, "3 words no parent wants to hear: 'Baby Shark Live!' And it's probably swimming to Phoenix," 14 June 2019 Trump himself seems utterly incapable of being shamed. David Cole, The New York Review of Books, "Have Human Rights Failed?," 18 Apr. 2019 A few days later on The View, host Goldberg shamed Thorne for taking the pics in the first place. Kaitlin Reilly, refinery29.com, "Bella Thorne Thanks Zendaya, Lily Rose Depp & More For Support After Nude Photo Hack," 20 June 2019 This week, Feal and other responders appeared before Congress as Stewart shamed lawmakers for not unanimously backing an extension of the fund. Ray Sanchez, CNN, "These are some of the 9/11 first responders who brought Jon Stewart to tears," 15 June 2019 As reported by The Daily Beast in an article published Tuesday, the allegations ranged from body-shaming and vulgar language to rape. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Bright screenwriter Max Landis accused of emotional and sexual abuse by eight women," 18 June 2019 But our Fire were whipped, slapped, folded, shamed and scorned by a minor league team, St. Louis FC, by a score of 2-1. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "The loneliness of the Chicago Fire fan," 14 June 2019 At the same time, older men who have been getting a free pass for their bad behavior are publicly getting called out and shamed. NBC News, "Working Mother's Subha Barry: 6 ways men can help women advance in the workplace," 14 June 2019

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

18 Jul 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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