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put-on

[noun poo t-on, -awn; adjective poo t-on, -awn]
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noun Informal.
  1. an act or instance of putting someone on.
  2. a prank or pretense, especially one perpetrated or assumed in mock seriousness; hoax; spoof.
  3. affected manner or behavior; pretentiousness.
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adjective
  1. assumed, feigned, pretended, or disguised: a put-on manner that didn't fool anyone.
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Origin of put-on

1855–60; adj., noun use of verb phrase put (someone) on
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for put-on

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • "She's only china, and her hair's a put-on wig," said Agatha, with tears in her eyes.

    A Christmas Posy

    Mary Louisa Stewart Molesworth

  • And since her niece had come to live with her, this put-on sternness had increased.

    The Carved Lions

    Mrs. Molesworth

  • This was evidently no put-on apology for the occasion, and Wyndham, as he spoke, looked as penitent as his words.

    The Willoughby Captains

    Talbot Baines Reed


Word Origin and History for put-on

n.

"ruse, deception," 1937, from earlier adjectival meaning "assumed, feigned" (1620s), a figurative extension of the notion of putting on costumes or disguises; from put (v.) + on (adv.). The expression put (someone) on "play a trick on" seems to be a back-formation from the noun.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper