Related formspho·ney·ness, noun


or pho·ney

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 for phony Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for phoniest


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


esp US phony

adjective -nier or -niest
  1. not genuine; fake
  2. (of a person) insincere or pretentious
noun plural -neys or -nies
  1. an insincere or pretentious person
  2. something that is not genuine; a fake
Derived Formsphoneyness or esp US phoniness, noun

Word Origin for phoney

C20: origin uncertain
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 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