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.
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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
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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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