feign

For a more formal way to say pretend to or imitate, choose the verb feign. You might feign indifference when you hear about some gossip, but you're probably dying to know.

Feign comes from the Latin fingere "to devise, fabricate." The word fiction comes from the same source, so if you feign something such as sleep, you give off the fiction that you are sleeping. This can be done to be polite but also to deceive such as when you feign an injury or the flu so you can stay home from school or work. You can also feign an accent, though some are better at this than others.

Definitions of feign
1

v make believe with the intent to deceive

“He feigned that he was ill”
Synonyms:
affect, dissemble, pretend, sham
make, make believe, pretend
represent fictitiously, as in a play, or pretend to be or act like
Types:
show 5 types...
hide 5 types...
play possum
to pretend to be dead
take a dive
pretend to be knocked out, as of a boxer
bull, fake, talk through one's hat
speak insincerely or without regard for facts or truths
mouth
articulate silently; form words with the lips only
lip-sync, lip-synch
move the lips in synchronization (with recorded speech or song)
Type of:
belie, misrepresent
represent falsely

v make a pretence of

“he feigned sleep”
Synonyms:
assume, sham, simulate
Types:
play
pretend to be somebody in the framework of a game or playful activity
feint
deceive by a mock action
Type of:
act, dissemble, pretend
behave unnaturally or affectedly

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.