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phony

or pho·ney

[foh-nee]
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adjective, pho·ni·er, pho·ni·est.
  1. not real or genuine; fake; counterfeit: a phony diamond.
  2. false or deceiving; not truthful; concocted: a phony explanation.
  3. insincere or deceitful; affected or pretentious: a phony sales representative.
noun, plural pho·nies.
  1. something that is phony; a counterfeit or fake.
  2. an insincere, pretentious, or deceitful person: He thought my friends were a bunch of phonies.
verb (used with object), pho·nied, pho·ny·ing.
  1. to falsify; counterfeit; fabricate (often followed by up): to phony up a document.

Origin of phony

1895–1900; perhaps alteration and respelling of fawney (slang) finger ring (< Irish fsptáinne), if taken to mean “false” in the phrase fawney rig a confidence game in which a brass ring is sold as a gold one
Related formspho·ni·ly, adverbpho·ni·ness, noun

Synonyms

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4. fraud, imitation, hoax.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for phonies

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Anyway, I wouldn't blame her, after the exhibition I made the other night, for classin' me with the phonies.

    Shorty McCabe

    Sewell Ford


British Dictionary definitions for phonies

phony

adjective, noun -nier or -niest or plural -nies
  1. a variant spelling (esp US) of phoney
Derived Formsphoniness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for phonies

phony

adj.

also phoney, "not genuine," 1899, perhaps an alteration of fawney "gilt brass ring used by swindlers."

His most successful swindle was selling "painted" or "phony" diamonds. He had a plan of taking cheap stones, and by "doctoring" them make them have a brilliant and high class appearance. His confederates would then take the diamonds to other pawnbrokers and dispose of them. ["The Jewelers Review," New York, April 5, 1899]

The noun meaning "phony person or thing" is attested from 1902.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper