Sham refers to something that is fake, false, or fraudulent, especially something that is presented as genuine but is actually a counterfeit or an imitation. It can also refer to a person who is insincere, deceitful, or pretentious.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech

Noun or verb.


Bogus, fake, phony, counterfeit, false, pretense, simulation, deception, fraud, imposter, charlatan.


Genuine, authentic, real, sincere.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun sham, shams, shammers, shammer
Verb sham, shamming, shammed, shams
Adjective sham
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The company was caught selling shams, and its reputation suffered as a result.

  • The politician’s promises were just shams to gain votes.

  • The painting looked genuine, but upon closer inspection, it was revealed to be a sham.

  • The actor’s performance was so good that even his colleagues believed it to be real, but it was later revealed to be a sham.


Sham can be used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it can refer to something that is counterfeit or fake, such as a sham diamond or a sham marriage. As a verb, it can refer to pretending or feigning something, such as shamming an injury to avoid work or responsibility. The term is often used in a negative context to describe something or someone that is dishonest or insincere.

Sham can also be used in the context of a sham transaction, which is a transaction that is entered into with the intention of avoiding a legal or tax obligation. In this sense, sham can be used to describe any act that is intended to deceive or mislead, such as a sham business deal or a sham legal settlement.

There are a few variations of the word sham, including shammer (noun), shamming (verb), and shamness (noun). The word sham can be traced back to the Old English word scamu, which means shame or disgrace. The term was later used to refer to a false or counterfeit object or person, which is the meaning that is commonly used today.