or pho·ney

[ foh-nee ]
See synonyms for: phonyphoniedphoniesphonying on

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.

  1. 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

Other words for phony

Other words from phony

  • pho·ni·ly, adverb
  • pho·ni·ness, noun

Other definitions for -phony (2 of 2)


  1. a combining form used in the formation of abstract nouns corresponding to nouns ending in -phone: telephony.

Origin of -phony

<Greek -phōnia;see -phone, -y3 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use phony in a sentence

  • I would even, I decided, stoop to having him thrown in jail on a phony charge, if that should be necessary.

    Nine Men in Time | Noel Miller Loomis
  • And you knew, right away, that Swami was a phony from Flatbush.

    Sense from Thought Divide | Mark Irvin Clifton
  • The Swami was an obvious phony of the baldest fakery, yet he had something.

    Sense from Thought Divide | Mark Irvin Clifton
  • He had less than a hundred credits, a knife, a deck of phony cards, and a yellow ticket.

    Police Your Planet | Lester del Rey
  • Unless the money is phony, or the pass is phony in which case the turnstile locks and all hell breaks loose.

    The Syndic | C.M. Kornbluth

British Dictionary definitions for phony (1 of 2)


/ (ˈfəʊnɪ) /

adjective, noun-nier or -niest or plural -nies
  1. a variant spelling (esp US) of phoney

Derived forms of phony

  • phoniness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for -phony (2 of 2)


n combining form
  1. indicating a specified type of sound: cacophony; euphony

Origin of -phony

from Greek -phōnia, from phōnē sound

Derived forms of -phony

  • -phonic, adj combining form

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