pre·​tend | \ pri-ˈtend How to pronounce pretend (audio) \
pretended; pretending; pretends

Definition of pretend

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to give a false appearance of being, possessing, or performing does not pretend to be a psychiatrist
2a : to make believe : feign he pretended deafness
b : to claim, represent, or assert falsely pretending an emotion he could not really feel
3 archaic : venture, undertake

intransitive verb

1 : to feign an action, part, or role especially in play
2 : to put in a claim cannot pretend to any particular expertise— Clive Barnes



Definition of pretend (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : imaginary, make-believe had a pretend pal with whom he talked
2 : not genuine : mock pretend pearls
3 : being a nonfunctional imitation a pretend train for the children to play in

Synonyms & Antonyms for pretend

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for pretend


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 pretend in a Sentence

Verb He had a big stain on his shirt, but I pretended not to notice. The children pretended to be asleep. She looked like she was enjoying the party but she was just pretending. It was a mistake, and to pretend otherwise would be foolish. The children were pretending to be animals. He pretended to make a phone call. Let's just pretend for a moment. I'm your boss. What would you say to me? Adjective The children played on a pretend train. if you were to see the movie's pretend jewels in real life, you wouldn't be fooled for a minute See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The scammer will pretend to be a buyer, respond to your post and agree immediately without negotiation, no questions asked about the price or the item. Alice Hearing, Fortune, 27 Aug. 2022 Now pretend that Evans is sitting by you in a cable knit sweater, playing a tune for you on the piano ... Chris Evans ... or reading you a story! Andrea Wurzburger, Peoplemag, 26 Aug. 2022 Anyone could access anything; anyone could pretend to be anyone. Jordana Cepelewicz, Quanta Magazine, 24 Aug. 2022 Some fraudsters pretend to represent the auto manufacturer or car dealer. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 17 Aug. 2022 In Season 4, Nancy Wheeler and Robin Buckley pretend to be students at the University of Notre Dame in order to gain entrance to an asylum. Claire Rafford, The Indianapolis Star, 12 Aug. 2022 The food, while well prepared, does not pretend to novelty, geared instead to a something-for-everyone menu like a hearty onion soup gratinée with sourdough crouton and piping hot Gruyère (€9.50) and a cream of cauliflower soup (€8.50). John Mariani, Forbes, 20 June 2022 Even if only one site is deemed possible, troops should pretend to work on other crossings to draw defenders away from the real one. Daniel Michaels, WSJ, 23 May 2022 As with his January 6 memos, his latest brief did not pretend to draw upon existing statutes or case law to make his argument. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 13 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Those documents were passed to clients, and to real and pretend media in Florida and Alabama. John Archibald |, al, 1 Sep. 2022 Wooden cars and a train with working wheels are also provided to be able to get around their pretend city. Ysolt Usigan, Woman's Day, 18 Aug. 2022 At first that meant playing make-believe together, in which Maggie was a pretend horse that young Marissa would train to go in circles. April Wallace, Arkansas Online, 24 July 2022 From a pretend cruise at sea to music video-style pool parties, this isn't your average seniors' home. Zulekha Nathoo, USA TODAY, 15 July 2022 The jig was up at the pretend quarterfinal stage when the police cracked down and arrested four persons involved with it. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 11 July 2022 Lyles leaned back in his chair in the Orioles clubhouse, playing pretend general manager for a moment. Andy Kostka, Baltimore Sun, 23 June 2022 His mom even saved the picture from our pretend wedding. cleveland, 14 May 2022 Here, roomy standing baskets (painted a stylish copper) function as a display for the pretend food used in the adorable play kitchen by Hello Baby Brown. Sienna Livermore, House Beautiful, 31 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of pretend


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1708, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pretend


Middle English, from Anglo-French pretendre, from Latin praetendere to allege as an excuse, literally, to stretch out, from prae- pre- + tendere to stretch — more at thin

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The first known use of pretend was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

28 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pretend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for pretend


pre·​tend | \ pri-ˈtend How to pronounce pretend (audio) \
pretended; pretending

Kids Definition of pretend

1 : to make believe Let's pretend we're riding on a bus.
2 : to put forward as true something that is not true She will pretend friendship.

Other Words from pretend

pretender noun

More from Merriam-Webster on pretend

Nglish: Translation of pretend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretend for Arabic Speakers


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