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Professional wrestler Brandon Locke executing a “dropkick” on Sean Burke during a bout in Stoneham, Massachusetts, USA, shown on The CW's Breaking Point program


The word is thought to have originated as carny slang for “protecting the secrets of the business”, and may ultimately originate from Pig Latin for “fake” (“ake-fay”) or the phrase “be fake” (“e-bay ake-fay”).


  • IPA(key): /ˈkeɪfeɪb/
  • Hyphenation: kay‧fabe


kayfabe (uncountable)

  1. (professional wrestling) The portrayal of events within the industry as real; the portrayal of professional wrestling and the accompanying storylines as not staged or worked.
    • 2002, Jerry Lawler; Doug Asheville, chapter 9, in It's Good to Be the King ... Sometimes, New York, N.Y.: Pocket Books, ↑ISBN, page 81:
      A while back, many of the things we talk about in this book would have been kayfabe. But I think it's been a good thing for wrestling that this isn't the case anymore. I know some people disagree, but I believe it was the best thing that ever happened in the business. If wrestling people had kept trying to convince fans that everything was absolutely real, then it would have been an insult to the fans' intelligence.
    • 2013, Eero Laine, “Professional Wrestling: Creating America's Fight Culture”, in Danielle Sarver Coombs and Bob Batchelor, editors, American History through American Sports: From Colonial Lacrosse to Extreme Sports, volume I (Creating Sports Culture: Beginnings), Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, ABC-CLIO, ↑ISBN, page 226:
      Kayfabe is the portrayal of professional wrestling as real—real competition, real sport, and real people (as opposed to characters). Kayfabe is neither a suspension of disbelief nor the legitimating rules found in sport; rather, it is the outward projection or performance of events as real, both within and without the simulated realm of sports entertainment. Business historian Fiona A. E. McQuarrie has noted that the concept of kayfabe is not uncommon outside the realm of professional wrestling, as many corporations "formally require their members to maintain public silence on company issues or not to express any explicit criticism of the company, through such means as employment contracts or through contracts governing severance or termination of employment."
    • 2013, Saul Lemerond, Kayfabe & Other Stories, Mount Pleasant, Miss.: One Wet Shoe Publishing, ↑ISBN:
      I've been breaking kayfabe a lot lately and it's bad, completely unprofessional.
    • 2017: "Roy Moore: Gladiator" by Jonah Goldberg, National Review
      But, yeah, sure: It’ll be entertaining for people who now follow politics like it’s one long pro-wrestling kayfabe.

Derived terms[edit]


kayfabe (third-person singular simple present kayfabes, present participle kayfabing, simple past and past participle kayfabed)

  1. (professional wrestling) To portray events within the industry as real, and not scripted or staged.
    • 2011, Chris Bateman, “Virtual Reality?”, in Imaginary Games, Winchester, Hampshire; Washington, U.S.A.: Zero Books, ↑ISBN, page 235:
      Pro Wrestling has traditionally been presented as if it were factual. In the United States, this pretense even has its own name: ‘kayfabe’. An interview that has been staged is said to be ‘kayfabed’.
    • 2012, Steven Johnson; Greg Oliver; Mike Mooneyham, The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: Heroes & Icons, Toronto: ECW Press, ↑ISBN:
      After his matches, he'd shower with his mask on. I understand protecting your image, but the guy was kayfabing us.
    • 2012, Billy C. Wirtz, Red Headed Geek: My Short and Painful Career as a Rasslin' Manager, Uniontown, Oh.: Holy Macro! Books, ↑ISBN, page 60:
      [] [John] Stossel took it upon himself to confront another wrestler to verify some of Mansfield's allegations. At first, Vince McMahon was cooperative, but upon realizing what was up, he kayfabed Stossel.
    • 2013, Julie Hart, Hart Strings: My Life with Bret and the Hart Family, Barrie, Ont.: Tightrope Books, ↑ISBN:
      He joked around with me and had me laughing so hard that it was tough not to feel silly about being "kayfabed."
    • 2015, James Dixon [et al.], The Complete WWE Guide Volume #6, [s.l.]: History of Wrestling, ↑ISBN, page 79:
      [] I do think he is a very underrated talent, remembered more for the cast he wore on his arm for eighteen months than his ability. Like every old school vet, he kayfabes his gimmick, claiming his arm healed slowly because he was pounding it into people every night.

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