9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[feyn] /feɪn/
verb (used with object)
to represent fictitiously; put on an appearance of:
to feign sickness.
to invent fictitiously or deceptively, as a story or an excuse.
to imitate deceptively:
to feign another's voice.
verb (used without object)
to make believe; pretend:
She's only feigning, she isn't really ill.
Origin of feign
1250-1300; Middle English fei(g)nen < Old French feign-, present stem of feindre < Latin fingere to shape, invent, feign
Related forms
feigner, noun
feigningly, adverb
unfeigning, adjective
unfeigningly, adverb
Can be confused
fain, faint, feign, feint.
4. See pretend. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for feign
  • Vendors may feign outrage, but they know how the game is played.
  • He would put them down on the lectern and then feign surprise that he had forgotten his syllabi in his office.
  • Although it was possible to feign uncertainty over his definitions, people understood precisely which job he meant.
  • The heathens might feign their gods of the woods, from certain monsters sometimes seen.
  • Proceeding thus, he arrived by degrees at playing naturally, though he did not cease to feign.
  • She had not been much of a dissembler, until now her loneliness taught her to feign.
  • He and the good doctor agree he should feign his demise in order to collect on the life insurance.
  • They then feign injury and are able to escape in an ambulance.
  • The fact that a corporation hiring guerrilla marketers would feign innocence is bad enough.
  • Even for the strongest of the breed, the best strategy is to feign weakness, to play the damsel in distress.
British Dictionary definitions for feign


to put on a show of (a quality or emotion); pretend: to feign innocence
(transitive) to make up; invent: to feign an excuse
(transitive) to copy; imitate: to feign someone's laugh
Derived Forms
feigner, noun
feigningly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from Old French feindre to pretend, from Latin fingere to form, shape, invent
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
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Word Origin and History for feign

c.1300, from Old French feign-, present participle stem of feindre "pretend, represent, imitate, shirk" (12c.), from Latin fingere "to touch, handle; devise; fabricate, alter, change" (see fiction). Related: Feigned; feigning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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