verb (used with object)
to cause or attempt to cause (what is not so) to seem so: to pretend illness; to pretend that nothing is wrong.
to appear falsely, as to deceive; feign: to pretend to go to sleep.
to make believe: The children pretended to be cowboys.
to presume; venture: I can't pretend to say what went wrong.
to allege or profess, especially insincerely or falsely: He pretended to have no knowledge of her whereabouts.
verb (used without object)
to make believe.
to lay claim to (usually followed by to ): She pretended to the throne.
to make pretensions (usually followed by to ): He pretends to great knowledge.
Obsolete. to aspire, as a suitor or candidate (followed by to ).
Informal. make-believe; simulated; counterfeit: pretend diamonds.

1325–75; Middle English pretenden < Latin praetendere to stretch forth, put forward, pretend. See pre-, tend1

portend, pretend (see synonym study at the current entry).

1. simulate, fake, sham, counterfeit. Pretend, affect, assume, feign imply an attempt to create a false appearance. To pretend is to create an imaginary characteristic or to play a part: to pretend sorrow. To affect is to make a consciously artificial show of having qualities that one thinks would look well and impress others: to affect shyness. To assume is to take on or put on a specific outward appearance, often (but not always) with intent to deceive: to assume an air of indifference. To feign implies using ingenuity in pretense, and some degree of imitation of appearance or characteristics: to feign surprise. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To pretend
World English Dictionary
pretend (prɪˈtɛnd)
vb (foll by to) (foll by to)
1.  (when tr, usually takes a clause as object or an infinitive) to claim or allege (something untrue)
2.  (tr; may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to make believe, as in a play: you pretend to be Ophelia
3.  to present a claim, esp a dubious one: to pretend to the throne
4.  obsolete to aspire as a candidate or suitor (for)
5.  fanciful; make-believe; simulated: a pretend gun
[C14: from Latin praetendere to stretch forth, feign, from prae in front + tendere to stretch]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1380, "to profess or claim," from O.Fr. pretendre "to lay claim," from L. prætendere "stretch in front, put forward, allege," from præ- "before" + tendere "to stretch," from PIE base *ten- "to stretch" (see tend). Main modern sense of "feign, put forward a false
claim" is recorded from 1412; the older sense of simply "to claim" is behind the string of royal pretenders (1697) in Eng. history. Meaning "to play, make believe" is recorded from 1865.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Fake crying and pretend laughing are among the earliest.
He definitely engages in pretend play, but he likes to be clear and explicit
  about when he's pretending and when he isn't.
One must maintain one's cool when toddlers pretend a bowl of cereal is a
Professors pretend to teach, students pretend to learn.
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