feign

verb
\ ˈfān How to pronounce feign (audio) \
feigned; feigning; feigns

Definition of feign

transitive verb

1a : to give a false appearance of : induce as a false impression feign death
b : to assert as if true : pretend He feigned that he was not feeling well so that he could leave the party early.
2 archaic
b : to give fictional representation to
3 obsolete : disguise, conceal

intransitive verb

: pretend, dissemble He told the truth because he was no good at feigning.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from feign

feigner noun

Choose the Right Synonym for feign

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

The Shape of the History of Feign

Feign is all about faking it, but that hasn't always been so. In one of its earliest senses, feign meant "to fashion, form, or shape." That meaning is true to the term's Latin ancestor: the verb fingere, which also means "to shape." The current senses of feign still retain the essence of the Latin source, since to feign something, such as surprise or an illness, requires one to fashion an impression or shape an image. Several other English words that trace to the same ancestor refer to things that are shaped with either the hands, as in figure and effigy, or the imagination, as in fiction and figment.

Examples of feign in a Sentence

I wince, feigning interest in a TV Guide and mumbling a hello. — Douglas Coupland, Generation X, 1991 Success keeps her busy. "Relaxation?" she asks, feigning puzzlement. "What's that?" — Jennifer Johnston, New Woman, November 1990 … Brad would sometimes clown or feign clumsiness just to crack her composed expression with a blush or a disapproving frown. — John Updike, Trust Me, 1987 I would never feign illness just to get out of a test.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Foley added that some states believe tenants will feign eligibility requirements without the check provided by the landlord. Divya Karthikeyan, The New Republic, 1 Oct. 2021 Somebody like Letterman, who really has very little interest in an actor telling a story about their second swimming pool not working, can feign interest and make a guest that’s uninteresting interesting and funny. David Marchese, Vulture, 14 Sep. 2021 But, too often, people feign certainty and make clear decisions about futures that are unknown. Jonathan Brill, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 Some will even use the Department of Education’s name, seal, or logo to feign legitimacy. Amy Wagner And Steve Sprovach, The Enquirer, 26 Aug. 2021 Some of the gatekeepers feign acceptance of the racial modifications of these platforms, while others have no qualms conveying their disdain or outright outrage at the presence of a Black person at said table. Bernice L. Mcfadden, Longreads, 7 Aug. 2021 Once upon a time, Affleck and Lopez could feign innocence. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 26 July 2021 Etcetera and Art are right to prod Scarlet on this admission; blackface is a hard thing to feign ignorance about, especially considering that this was only a matter of years ago. Shaad D'souza, Vulture, 29 May 2021 De Niro’s lines, so De Niro could hear the intonation, not to feign a Southern dialect, but to sound close enough. Tim Chitwood, ajc, 22 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'feign.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of feign

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for feign

Middle English feynen, feignen "to make, fabricate, make a likeness of, dissemble, pretend to be," borrowed from Anglo-French feign-, stem of feindre, going back to Latin fingere "to mold, fashion, make a likeness of, pretend to be," going back to Indo-European *dhi-n-ǵh- (whence also Old Irish con-utuinc "builds, constructs,",Armenian dizanem "[I] heap up"), present tense derivative of *dhei̯ǵh- "knead, shape," whence Gothic digan "to knead, form from clay," Old Church Slavic ziždǫ, zĭdati "to build," Lithuanian žiedžiù, žiẽsti "to form, shape (from clay)" (Balto-Slavic with metathesis of stop consonants), Armenian edēz "(s/he) heaped up," Tocharian B tsik- "fashion, shape, build," Sanskrit pari … déhat "will cover over, smear over"

Note: See also etymologies at dough, paradise, and thigmotropism.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About feign

Time Traveler for feign

Time Traveler

The first known use of feign was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near feign

feifteen

feign

feigned

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for feign

Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Feign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feign. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for feign

feign

verb

English Language Learners Definition of feign

: to pretend to feel or be affected by (something)

feign

verb
\ ˈfān How to pronounce feign (audio) \
feigned; feigning

Kids Definition of feign

: pretend sense 2 feigning sickness

More from Merriam-Webster on feign

Nglish: Translation of feign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of feign for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!