pretend
Pronunciation
  • IPA: /pɹɪˈtɛnd/
Verb

pretend (pretends, present participle pretending; past and past participle pretended)

  1. To claim#Verb|claim, to allege, especially when falsely or as a form of deliberate deception. [from 14th c.]
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, XVIII.23:
      "After what past at Upton, so soon to engage in a new amour with another woman, while I fancied, and you pretended, your heart was bleeding for me!"
    • 2009 April 13, “Vanity publishing”, in The Economist:
      I have nothing but contempt for people who hire ghost-writers. But at least most faux authors have the decency to pretend that they are sweating blood over "their" book.
  2. To feign, affect#Verb|affect (a state, quality, etc.). [from 15th c.]
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 5”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      This let him know, / Lest, wilfully transgressing, he pretend / Surprisal.
    • 2007 October 29, The Guardian, London:
      Gap and other clothes manufacturers should stop using small subcontractors because they are difficult to control. Instead, they should open up their own fully-owned production facilities so that they cannot pretend ignorance when abuses are committed.
  3. To lay claim to (an ability, status, advantage, etc.). [from 15th c.] (originally used without to)
    • Chiefs shall be grudged the part which they pretend.
    • 1946, Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, I.25:
      People observed the diversity of schools and the acerbity of their disputes, and decided that all alike were pretending to knowledge which was in fact unattainable.
  4. To make oneself appear to do or be doing something; to engage in make-believe.
    • 1814 July, [Jane Austen], chapter VI, in Mansfield Park: A Novel. In Three Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for T[homas] Egerton, […], OCLC 39810224 ↗, pages 111–112 ↗:
      "The truth is, Ma'am," said Mrs. Grant, pretending to whisper across the table to Mrs. Norris, "that Dr. Grant hardly knows what the natural taste of our apricot is; […]."
    • 2003 January 23, Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, London:
      Luster claimed that the women had consented to sex and were only pretending to be asleep.
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To hold before, or put forward, as a cloak#Noun|cloak or disguise#Noun|disguise for something else; to exhibit#Verb|exhibit as a veil#Noun|veil for something hidden.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 9”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      Lest that too heavenly form, pretended / To hellish falsehood, snare them.
  6. (transitive, obsolete) To intend; to design#Verb|design, to plot#Verb|plot; to attempt#Verb|attempt.
    • 1591, William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Sixt”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act IV, scene i]:
      Such as shall pretend / Malicious practices against his state.
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To hold before one; to extend.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, VI.11:
      Pastorella […] Was by the Captaine all this while defended, / Who, minding more her safety then himselfe, / His target alwayes over her pretended […].
Related terms Translations Translations
  • French: prétendre à
Translations Adjective

pretend (not comparable)

  1. Not really what it is represented as being; imaginary, feigned.
    As children we used to go on "spying" missions around the neighbour's house, but it was all pretend.
Translations
  • Spanish: de mentirijillas (colloquial)



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