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Synonym Chooser

How does the verb pretend contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of pretend are affect, assume, counterfeit, feign, sham, and simulate. While all these words mean "to put on a false or deceptive appearance," pretend implies an overt and sustained false appearance.

pretended that nothing had happened

Where would affect be a reasonable alternative to pretend?

In some situations, the words affect and pretend are roughly equivalent. However, affect implies making a false show of possessing, using, or feeling.

affected an interest in art

When might assume be a better fit than pretend?

Although the words assume and pretend have much in common, assume often implies a justifiable motive rather than an intent to deceive.

assumed an air of cheerfulness around the patients

In what contexts can counterfeit take the place of pretend?

The meanings of counterfeit and pretend largely overlap; however, counterfeit implies achieving the highest degree of verisimilitude of any of these words.

an actor counterfeiting drunkenness

How does the word feign relate to other synonyms for pretend?

Feign implies more artful invention than pretend, less specific mimicry than simulate.

feigned sickness

When is sham a more appropriate choice than pretend?

The words sham and pretend can be used in similar contexts, but sham implies an obvious falseness that fools only the gullible.

shammed a most unconvincing limp

When can simulate be used instead of pretend?

While in some cases nearly identical to pretend, simulate suggests a close imitation of the appearance of something.

cosmetics that simulate a suntan

Thesaurus Entries Near pretend

Cite this Entry

“Pretend.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on pretend

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