What does pretend mean?

Definitions for pretend

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word pretend.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. make-believe, pretendadjective

    the enactment of a pretense

    "it was just pretend"

  2. make-believe, pretendverb

    imagined as in a play

    "the make-believe world of theater"; "play money"; "dangling their legs in the water to catch pretend fish"

  3. feign, sham, pretend, affect, dissembleverb

    make believe with the intent to deceive

    "He feigned that he was ill"; "He shammed a headache"

  4. dissemble, pretend, actverb

    behave unnaturally or affectedly

    "She's just acting"

  5. pretendverb

    put forward a claim and assert right or possession of

    "pretend the title of King"

  6. guess, venture, pretend, hazardverb

    put forward, of a guess, in spite of possible refutation

    "I am guessing that the price of real estate will rise again"; "I cannot pretend to say that you are wrong"

  7. make, pretend, make believeverb

    represent fictitiously, as in a play, or pretend to be or act like

    "She makes like an actress"

  8. profess, pretendverb

    state insincerely

    "He professed innocence but later admitted his guilt"; "She pretended not to have known the suicide bomber"; "She pretends to be an expert on wine"


  1. pretendverb

    To claim, allege, especially when falsely or as a form of deliberate deception.

  2. pretendverb

    To feign, affect (a state, quality etc.).

  3. pretendverb

    To lay claim to (an ability, status, advantage etc.).

  4. pretendverb

    To make oneself appear to do or be doing something; to engage in make-believe.

  5. Etymology: From pretendre, pretendre (French prétendre), from praetendere, present active infinitive of praetendo, from prae- + tendo; see tend.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To PRETENDverb

    Etymology: prætendo, Lat. pretendre, Fr.

    Lucagus, to lash his horses, bends
    Prone to the wheels, and his left foot pretends. Dryden.

    All these movements seemed to be pretended by moving of the earth in Sussex. John Hayward.

    This let him know,
    Lest wilfully transgressing he pretend
    Surprisal. John Milton.

    What reason then can any man pretend against religion, when it is so apparently for the benefit, not only of human society, but of every particular person. John Tillotson.

    ’Tis their interest to guard themselves from those riotous effects of pretended zeal, nor is it less their duty. D. of Piety.

    Warn all creatures from thee
    Henceforth; lest that too heav’nly form, pretended
    To hellish falshood, snare them. John Milton, Par. Lost.

    Chiefs shall be grudg’d the part which they pretend. Dry.

    Are they not rich? what more can they pretend? Alexander Pope.

  2. To Pretendverb

    What peace can be, where both to one pretend?
    But they more diligent, and we more strong. Dryden.

    In those countries that pretend to freedom, princes are subject to those laws which their people have chosen. Jonathan Swift.

    Of the ground of redness in this sea are we not fully satisfied; for there is another red sea, whose name we pretend not to make out from these principles. Brown.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Pretendverb

    to lay a claim to; to allege a title to; to claim

  2. Pretendverb

    to hold before, or put forward, as a cloak or disguise for something else; to exhibit as a veil for something hidden

  3. Pretendverb

    to hold out, or represent, falsely; to put forward, or offer, as true or real (something untrue or unreal); to show hypocritically, or for the purpose of deceiving; to simulate; to feign; as, to pretend friendship

  4. Pretendverb

    to intend; to design; to plot; to attempt

  5. Pretendverb

    to hold before one; to extend

  6. Pretendverb

    to put in, or make, a claim, truly or falsely; to allege a title; to lay claim to, or strive after, something; -- usually with to

  7. Pretendverb

    to hold out the appearance of being, possessing, or performing; to profess; to make believe; to feign; to sham; as, to pretend to be asleep

  8. Etymology: [OE. pretenden to lay claim to, F. prtendre, L. praetendere, praetentum, to stretch forward, pretend, simulate, assert; prae before + tendere to stretch. See Tend, v. t. ]


  1. Pretend

    "Pretend" is a popular song, written in 1952 by Lew Douglas, Cliff Parman, and Frank Levere. The best-known recording, by Nat King Cole was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 2346. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on January 31, 1953 and lasted 20 weeks on the chart, peaking at #3. Cole would later re-record the song for his 1961 album The Nat King Cole Story. The recording by Ralph Marterie was released by Mercury Records as catalog number 70045. It reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on February 7, 1953 at #16, its only week on the chart. The recording by Eileen Barton was released by Coral Records as catalog number 60927. It reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on March 7, 1953 at #18, its only week on the chart. On the Cash Box charts, where all versions of the song were combined, the song reached a peak of #5 in 1953. The song was subsequently recorded by Tab Smith, reaching #89 on the Billboard chart in 1957, and by Carl Mann, reaching #57 on Billboard and #56 on Cash Box in 1959. Alvin Stardust's cover version was a popular hit in the United Kingdom in 1981, when it reached number four in the UK singles chart. This cover was largely based on Carl Mann's 1959-version of this song.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Pretend

    prē-tend′, v.t. to hold out as a cloak for something else: to lay claim to: to attempt, undertake: to offer as true something that is not so: to affect to feel: (obs.) to offer, present.—v.i. to put in a claim: to make-believe.—ns. Pretence′, something pretended: appearance or show to hide reality: false show or reason: pretext: assumption: claim; Preten′dant, -ent, a pretender.—adjs. Preten′ded, Preten′sed, ostensible, assumed.—adv. Preten′dedly.—ns. Preten′der; Preten′dership.—adv. Preten′dingly.—n. Preten′sion, act of pretending: something pretended: false or fictitious appearance: claim either true or false.—adj. Preten′tious, marked by or containing pretence: claiming more than is warranted: presumptuous: arrogant.—adv. Preten′tiously, in a pretentious manner.—n. Preten′tiousness, the quality of being pretentious. [Fr. prétendre—L. prætendĕrepræ, before, tendĕre, tentum, tensum, to stretch.]

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'pretend' in Written Corpus Frequency: #4246

  2. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'pretend' in Verbs Frequency: #597

How to pronounce pretend?

How to say pretend in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of pretend in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of pretend in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of pretend in a Sentence

  1. Sidewalk Labs:

    There is this asymmetry in being able to approach this topic, and as a result, we're ending up with a very unbalanced conversation. we don't pretend to have all the answers and the proposals in the [ plan ] are not final.

  2. Daren Coulston:

    It's hard to talk about these experiences for men. Most of them rather pretend it never happened, but for their mental health, they need all the help and support they can get.

  3. Lindsey Graham:

    I'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.

  4. Peggy Caruso:

    When you leave work, be in the moment, when you go out from the [ home office ] pretend you're coming home and invite yourself to dinner. Put the phone down, disconnect from work, and be in mindset that the family needs a healthy meal together to talk about the day.

  5. James Lewis:

    It's not like Xi's going to come in and say, 'I'm sorry, you're right. It'll never happen again.' But it does tell the Chinese: 'You're not going to be able to try to pretend (cyberespionage) didn't happen.'.

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Translations for pretend

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    (used especially of glances) directed to one side with or as if with doubt or suspicion or envy
    • A. tantamount
    • B. sesquipedalian
    • C. askant
    • D. bristly

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