9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[sham] /ʃæm/
something that is not what it purports to be; a spurious imitation; fraud or hoax.
a person who shams; shammer.
a cover or the like for giving a thing a different outward appearance:
a pillow sham.
pretended; counterfeit; feigned:
sham attacks; a sham Gothic façade.
designed, made, or used as a sham.
verb (used with object), shammed, shamming.
to produce an imitation of.
to assume the appearance of; pretend to have:
to sham illness.
verb (used without object), shammed, shamming.
to make a false show of something; pretend.
Origin of sham
1670-80; origin uncertain
Related forms
unshammed, adjective
1. pretense. 4. spurious, make-believe, simulated, mock. See false. 6. imitate. 7. feign, fake.
4. genuine. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sham
  • Arthroscopic knee surgery is a remedy for arthritis, but researchers have matched its effectiveness with a sham operation.
  • The river will go down then all you environmentalist will get all excited about the dead zone in the gulf, which is another sham.
  • sham or not, more than twenty people were reported killed in election-related violence.
  • We were rattled up by an alarm,-perhaps a sham one, to keep us awake and lively.
  • He also has advice for faculty members who are sucked into participating on sham committees about how to survive them.
  • Essentially it is a sham being sold to those looking for the easy way to get a degree.
  • They have the bitterness of a group whose worldview has proven itself to be a sham.
  • Animals given a sham injection regained little or none of the lost strength, the group reports.
  • Confidence has been lost, media that has backed this nonsense for so long are now trying to prop up the sham science.
  • And for those who want to freeze their brains, here's some real news: it's a sham.
British Dictionary definitions for sham


anything that is not what it purports or appears to be
something false, fake, or fictitious that purports to be genuine
a person who pretends to be something other than he is
counterfeit or false; simulated
verb shams, shamming, shammed
to falsely assume the appearance of (something); counterfeit: to sham illness
Derived Forms
shammer, noun
Word Origin
C17: perhaps a Northern English dialect variant of shame
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 sham

1670s, "a trick, a hoax, a fraud," also as a verb and an adjective, of uncertain origin; the words burst into use in 1677. Perhaps from sham, a northern dialectal variant of shame (n.); a derivation OED finds "not impossible." Sense of "something meant to be mistaken for something else" is from 1728. The meaning "false front" in pillow-sham (1721) is from the notion of "counterfeit." Related: Shammed; shamming; shammer. Shamateur "amateur sportsman who acts like a professional" is from 1896.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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