• synonyms


See more synonyms for sham on Thesaurus.com
  1. something that is not what it purports to be; a spurious imitation; fraud or hoax.
  2. a person who shams; shammer.
  3. a cover or the like for giving a thing a different outward appearance: a pillow sham.
Show More
  1. pretended; counterfeit; feigned: sham attacks; a sham Gothic façade.
  2. designed, made, or used as a sham.
Show More
verb (used with object), shammed, sham·ming.
  1. to produce an imitation of.
  2. to assume the appearance of; pretend to have: to sham illness.
Show More
verb (used without object), shammed, sham·ming.
  1. to make a false show of something; pretend.
Show More

Origin of sham

First recorded in 1670–80; origin uncertain
Related formsun·shammed, adjective


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. pretense. 4. spurious, make-believe, simulated, mock. See false. 6. imitate. 7. feign, fake.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for sham

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for sham


  1. anything that is not what it purports or appears to be
  2. something false, fake, or fictitious that purports to be genuine
  3. a person who pretends to be something other than he is
Show More
  1. counterfeit or false; simulated
Show More
verb shams, shamming or shammed
  1. to falsely assume the appearance of (something); counterfeitto sham illness
Show More
Derived Formsshammer, noun

Word Origin

C17: perhaps a Northern English dialect variant of shame
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 sham


1670s, "a trick, a hoax, a fraud," also as a verb and an adjective, of uncertain origin; the words burst into use in 1677. Perhaps from sham, a northern dialectal variant of shame (n.); a derivation OED finds "not impossible." Sense of "something meant to be mistaken for something else" is from 1728. The meaning "false front" in pillow-sham (1721) is from the notion of "counterfeit." Related: Shammed; shamming; shammer. Shamateur "amateur sportsman who acts like a professional" is from 1896.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper