insincerely or falsely professed: a pretended interest in art.
feigned, fictitious, or counterfeit: His pretended wealth was proved to be nonexistent.
alleged or asserted; reputed.

Origin of pretended

late Middle English word dating back to 1425–75; see origin at pretend, -ed2
Related formspre·tend·ed·ly, adverbself-pre·tend·ed, adjectiveun·pre·tend·ed, adjective



verb (used with object)

to cause or attempt to cause (what is not so) to seem so: to pretend illness; to pretend that nothing is wrong.
to appear falsely, as to deceive; feign: to pretend to go to sleep.
to make believe: The children pretended to be cowboys.
to presume; venture: I can't pretend to say what went wrong.
to allege or profess, especially insincerely or falsely: He pretended to have no knowledge of her whereabouts.

verb (used without object)

to make believe.
to lay claim to (usually followed by to): She pretended to the throne.
to make pretensions (usually followed by to): He pretends to great knowledge.
Obsolete. to aspire, as a suitor or candidate (followed by to).


Informal. make-believe; simulated; counterfeit: pretend diamonds.

Origin of pretend

1325–75; Middle English pretenden < Latin praetendere to stretch forth, put forward, pretend. See pre-, tend1
Can be confusedportend pretend (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonyms for pretend

1. simulate, fake, sham, counterfeit. 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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pretended

Contemporary Examples of pretended

Historical Examples of pretended

  • She pretended that at first she took young Bines for what we all took him, an employee of the mine.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Her mother laughed merrily, and pretended to box her daughter's ears.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • And he pretended he had got it, and read me such a beautiful letter from his mother!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • "You've always said she hadn't, and pretended to be glad of it; I won't contradict," I returned.

  • I did not love you; I do not think I have pretended to love you.

British Dictionary definitions for pretended



(when tr, usually takes a clause as object or an infinitive) to claim or allege (something untrue)
(tr; may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to make believe, as in a playyou pretend to be Ophelia
(intr foll by to) to present a claim, esp a dubious oneto pretend to the throne
(intr foll by to) obsolete to aspire as a candidate or suitor (for)


fanciful; make-believe; simulateda pretend gun

Word Origin for pretend

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

mid-15c., "so-called," past participle adjective from pretend (v.).



late 14c., "to profess, assert, maintain" (a claim, etc.), "to direct (one's) efforts," from Old French pretendre "to lay claim," from Latin praetendere "stretch in front, put forward, allege," from prae "before" (see pre-) + tendere "to stretch," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch" (see tend).

Main modern sense of "feign, put forward a false claim" is recorded from c.1400; the older sense of simply "to claim" is behind the string of royal pretenders (1690s) in English history. Meaning "to play, make believe" is recorded from 1865. In 17c. pretend also could mean "make a suit of marriage for," from a sense in French. Related: Pretended; pretending.



"fact of pretending," 1888, from children's talk, from pretend (v.). Earlier in same sense was verbal noun pretending (1640s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper