- not real or genuine; fake; counterfeit: a phony diamond.
- false or deceiving; not truthful; concocted: a phony explanation.
- insincere or deceitful; affected or pretentious: a phony sales representative.
- something that is phony; a counterfeit or fake.
- an insincere, pretentious, or deceitful person: He thought my friends were a bunch of phonies.
- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms for phony on Thesaurus.com
4. fraud, imitation, hoax.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- a variant spelling (esp US) of phoney
esp US phony
- not genuine; fake
- (of a person) insincere or pretentious
- an insincere or pretentious person
- something that is not genuine; a fake
C20: origin uncertain
Word Origin and History for phoniest
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