Printable Version
Pronunciation: fayn Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To fake, pretend to be affected by, put on an impression of (a feeling or injury) as 'to feign dizziness'. 2. Imitate as a deception, as 'to feign another's identity'. 3. Make up, fabricate, falsely claim, as 'to feign a story about one's exploits'.

Notes: Today's word, despite its silent G, is treated as a strictly English word. The personal noun is feigner and the adjective and action noun are the present participle, feigning. The past participle, feigned, may be used as an adjective; however, the -ed in the suffix must be pronounced in the adverb, feighnedly [fayn-id-li].

In Play: Today's word is used most often in the first sense above: "In soccer, players who fall accidentally often feign injury so that an opponent near them will get a yellow card." However, you will encounter the other senses now and then: "Herschel feigned several imaginary adventures rather than appear to be leading a humdrum life."

Word History: In Middle English today's Good Word was feinen "to disguise, conceal surreptitiously", borrowed from Old French feindre/feign- "to feign, pretend; imitate". The Old French word had one stem for the tenses and another for participles. French inherited this word Latin fingere "to touch, handle; disguise". Latin got its term from PIE dheigh-/dhoigh- "to form, build", source also of English dough. It also went into the making of Latin figura, which French whittled down to figure, and figmentum "creation, something formed, fashioned", which English trimmed down into figment.

Dr. Goodword,

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