Printable Version
Pronunciation: shæm Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, adjective

Meaning: 1. (Noun) Hoax, fraud. 2. (Adjective) Fake, deceitful, fraudulent, faux.

Notes: Today's noun may be used not only as an adjective, but as a verb, as 'she shams her injuries'. Don't forget to double the M before any suffix: shammed, shamming, and shammer.

In Play: This word works whenever we mean "pretense": "Phil Anders is so consistently unfaithful, his marriage is just a sham." The adjective may be used in the sense of fake: "Sham marriages are often arranged to facilitate migrating from one country to another."

Word History: Today's Good Word migrated from a dialect in northern England, where shame was pronounced sham. Shame was derived from Proto-Germanic skamo, source also of Dutch schaamte, German Scham, and Swedish skam. Proto-German skamo came from Proto-Indo-European (s)kem-/(s)kom- "to cover, hide, conceal", back when covering yourself was to prevent shame. No, shampoo is not a reduction of sham poo. (Now let's welcome back Albert Skiles, whom we haven't heard from since 2017. He's the contributor of some 30-odd Good Words including today's rather deceptive one.)

Dr. Goodword,

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