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[sham] /ʃæm/
something that is not what it purports to be; a spurious imitation; fraud or hoax.
a person who shams; shammer.
a cover or the like for giving a thing a different outward appearance:
a pillow sham.
pretended; counterfeit; feigned:
sham attacks; a sham Gothic façade.
designed, made, or used as a sham.
verb (used with object), shammed, shamming.
to produce an imitation of.
to assume the appearance of; pretend to have:
to sham illness.
verb (used without object), shammed, shamming.
to make a false show of something; pretend.
Origin of sham
First recorded in 1670-80; origin uncertain
Related forms
unshammed, adjective
1. pretense. 4. spurious, make-believe, simulated, mock. See false. 6. imitate. 7. feign, fake.
4. genuine. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for shamming
Historical Examples
  • The constable did not know whether he was shamming or not, but he took no risks.

  • When it looked last night as if it hung right over our heads, it was shamming.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
  • Possibly he's shamming, now; though he was stunned, as well as half-suffocated.'

    Against Odds Lawrence L. Lynch
  • And with this viewpoint, there was no shamming about the old man's expressions of friendship.

    The White Desert

    Courtney Ryley Cooper
  • You know I was shamming when I acted as though I had lost my identity.

    The White Desert

    Courtney Ryley Cooper
  • The fox wasn't quite dead after all, it was only shamming dead.

    The Mahatma and the Hare H. Rider Haggard
  • It's just too sweet of her, any way, even if she's shamming.

  • We thought that they were shamming, and treated them like the rest.

    Marmaduke Merry William H. G. Kingston
  • None the less, watching Kathryn, she could not in sincerity accuse her of any shamming.

    The Brentons Anna Chapin Ray
  • “He is shamming, Nat, like a very bashful boy,” said Uncle Dick.

    Nat the Naturalist G. Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for shamming


anything that is not what it purports or appears to be
something false, fake, or fictitious that purports to be genuine
a person who pretends to be something other than he is
counterfeit or false; simulated
verb shams, shamming, shammed
to falsely assume the appearance of (something); counterfeit: to sham illness
Derived Forms
shammer, noun
Word Origin
C17: perhaps a Northern English dialect variant of shame
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
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Word Origin and History for shamming



1670s, "a trick, a hoax, a fraud," also as a verb and an adjective, of uncertain origin; the words burst into use in 1677. Perhaps from sham, a northern dialectal variant of shame (n.); a derivation OED finds "not impossible." Sense of "something meant to be mistaken for something else" is from 1728. The meaning "false front" in pillow-sham (1721) is from the notion of "counterfeit." Related: Shammed; shamming; shammer. Shamateur "amateur sportsman who acts like a professional" is from 1896.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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