A sham is a fake. If you frequently order products advertised on late-night, hour-long television commercials, you’ve probably ended up with at least one item that was a sham. All-purpose, industrial strength stain remover, anyone?

Sham can be used to refer to people as well as to things. Remember that doctor from the late-night TV commercial advertising UltraMiracleCure vitamin pills? He’s probably a sham, or a quack. Some sources claim that the word sham originated in the 17th century and was derived from the English word shame, but who knows? Maybe that theory’s a sham too.

Definitions of sham
  1. noun
    something that is a counterfeit; not what it seems to be
    synonyms: fake, postiche
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    fake book
    a fake in the form of an imitation book; used to fill bookcases of people who wish to appear scholarly
    Potemkin village
    something that seems impressive but in fact lacks substance
    type of:
    something copied or derived from an original
  2. noun
    a person who makes deceitful pretenses
    synonyms: fake, faker, fraud, humbug, imposter, impostor, pretender, pseud, pseudo, role player, shammer
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    name dropper
    someone who pretends that famous people are his/her friends
    a contestant entered in a competition under false pretenses
    type of:
    beguiler, cheat, cheater, deceiver, slicker, trickster
    someone who leads you to believe something that is not true
  3. adjective
    adopted in order to deceive
    sham modesty”
    synonyms: assumed, false, fictitious, fictive, pretended, put on
    counterfeit, imitative
    not genuine; imitating something superior
  4. verb
    make believe with the intent to deceive
    “He shammed a headache”
    synonyms: affect, dissemble, feign, pretend
    make, make believe, pretend
    represent fictitiously, as in a play, or pretend to be or act like
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    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
    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
  5. verb
    make a pretense of
    synonyms: assume, feign, simulate
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    pretend to be somebody in the framework of a game or playful activity
    deceive by a mock action
    type of:
    act, dissemble, pretend
    behave unnaturally or affectedly
Word Family

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