View synonyms for pretend


[ pri-tend ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to cause or attempt to cause (what is not so) to seem so:

    to pretend illness; to pretend that nothing is wrong.

    Synonyms: counterfeit, sham, fake, simulate

  2. to appear falsely, as to deceive; feign:

    to pretend to go to sleep.

  3. to make believe:

    The children pretended to be cowboys.

  4. to presume; venture:

    I can't pretend to say what went wrong.

  5. to allege or profess, especially insincerely or falsely:

    He pretended to have no knowledge of her whereabouts.

verb (used without object)

  1. to make believe.
  2. to lay claim to (usually followed by to ):

    She pretended to the throne.

  3. to make pretensions (usually followed by to ):

    He pretends to great knowledge.

  4. Obsolete. to aspire, as a suitor or candidate (followed by to ).


  1. Informal. make-believe; simulated; counterfeit:

    pretend diamonds.


/ prɪˈtɛnd /


  1. when tr, usually takes a clause as object or an infinitive to claim or allege (something untrue)
  2. tr; may take a clause as object or an infinitive to make believe, as in a play

    you pretend to be Ophelia

  3. intrfoll byto to present a claim, esp a dubious one

    to pretend to the throne

  4. obsolete.
    intrfoll byto to aspire as a candidate or suitor (for)


  1. fanciful; make-believe; simulated

    a pretend gun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of pretend1

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English pretenden, from Latin praetendere “to stretch forth, put forward, pretend.” See pre-, tend 1

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Word History and Origins

Origin of pretend1

C14: from Latin praetendere to stretch forth, feign, from prae in front + tendere to stretch

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Synonym Study

Pretend, affect, assume, feign imply an attempt to create a false appearance. To pretend is to create an imaginary characteristic or to play a part: to pretend sorrow. To affect is to make a consciously artificial show of having qualities that one thinks would look well and impress others: to affect shyness. To assume is to take on or put on a specific outward appearance, often (but not always) with intent to deceive: to assume an air of indifference. To feign implies using ingenuity in pretense, and some degree of imitation of appearance or characteristics: to feign surprise.

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Example Sentences

Let’s pretend that politicians wake up and don’t reopen restaurants and we avoid a big wave in March.

After a certain point, you can’t even pretend that you have control.

We should not pretend that the Facebook Oversight Board is more than a McGuffin designed to distract us from serious issues.

From Time

It’s terrible, and you constantly have to pretend you like it.

From Time

I wasn’t, but I pretended otherwise, just to see if Pennyroyal Station followed through on requests.

For Kirke it was being paid to pretend to play the oboe that heightened her affair with classical music.

The irony has thinned with the economy, perhaps: Who can really afford just to pretend to DIY today?

Sure, some parents would rather pretend their kids would never look at that stuff.

Quickly, the lines between their pretend feelings for each other and their real ones are blurred.

Or: “Jazz: Just pretend you like it, that's what everyone else is doing.”

A quite young child will, for example, pretend to do something, as to take an empty cup and carry out the semblance of drinking.

I believe I murmured something suitable, but it was absurd to pretend to be overjoyed at the news.

That my aspirations were satisfied I do not pretend, for ambition forbade any settled feeling of rest or content.

I've only known Indian rivers for five and twenty years, and I don't pretend to understand.

We shall have to pretend to do some gun practice, and drop a shell on to its surface to find out.