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[noun poo t-on, -awn; adjective poo t-on, -awn] /noun ˈpʊtˌɒn, -ˌɔn; adjective ˈpʊtˈɒn, -ˈɔn/
noun, Informal.
an act or instance of putting someone on.
a prank or pretense, especially one perpetrated or assumed in mock seriousness; hoax; spoof.
affected manner or behavior; pretentiousness.
assumed, feigned, pretended, or disguised:
a put-on manner that didn't fool anyone.
Origin of put-on
1855-60; adj., noun use of verb phrase put (someone) on Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for put-on
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "She's only china, and her hair's a put-on wig," said Agatha, with tears in her eyes.

    A Christmas Posy

    Mary Louisa Stewart Molesworth
  • And since her niece had come to live with her, this put-on sternness had increased.

    The Carved Lions Mrs. Molesworth
  • This was evidently no put-on apology for the occasion, and Wyndham, as he spoke, looked as penitent as his words.

    The Willoughby Captains Talbot Baines Reed
Word Origin and History for put-on

"ruse, deception," 1937, from earlier adjectival meaning "assumed, feigned" (1620s), a figurative extension of the notion of putting on costumes or disguises; from put (v.) + on (adv.). The expression put (someone) on "play a trick on" seems to be a back-formation from the noun.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for put-on



Feigned; affected: his put-on machismo (1621+)


  1. An act, remark, etc, intended to fool someone; a more or less amiable deception: a master of the ''put-on,'' a mildly cruel art/ They nudge us that what they're doing is just a ''put-on'' (1896+)
  2. (also put-on artist) A pretender; phony: to equate an original talent like Kenneth Anger with a put-on like Andy Warhol (1960s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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