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From Middle English feynen, feinen,[1] borrowed from Old French feindre (to pretend), from Latin fingere (to form, shape, invent). Compare French feignant (present participle of feindre, literally feigning). Also compare feint and fiction.





feign (third-person singular simple present feigns, present participle feigning, simple past and past participle feigned)

  1. To make a false show or pretence of; to counterfeit or simulate.
    The pupil feigned sickness on the day of his exam.
    They feigned her signature on the cheque.
    • 1559, William Shakespeare, As You Like It, III.iii.18-21:
      [T]he truest poetry is the most
      feigning, and lovers are given to poetry, and what
      they swear in poetry may be said as lovers they do
    • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 2, in Vanity Fair [], London: Bradbury and Evans [], published 1848, →OCLC:
      She had not been much of a dissembler, until now her loneliness taught her to feign.
  2. To imagine; to invent; to pretend to do something.
    He feigned that he had gone home at the appointed time.
    • '1511, King James Translators, Nehemiah 5:8:
      Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.
  3. To make an action as if doing one thing, but actually doing another, for example to trick an opponent; to feint.
    • 14 August 2013, Daniel Taylor, “Rickie Lambert's debut goal gives England victory over Scotland”, in The Guardian[1]:
      Cahill was beaten far too easily for Miller's goal, although the striker deserves the credit for the way he controlled Alan Hutton's right-wing delivery, with his back to goal, feigned to his left then went the other way and pinged a splendid left-foot shot into Hart's bottom right-hand corner.
  4. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) To hide or conceal.
    Jessica feigned the fact that she had not done her homework.



Derived terms





  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “feign”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.