Advertisement - Continue reading below

Definition of "sham" [sham]

  • Something false or empty that is purported to be genuine; a spurious imitation. (noun)
  • The quality of deceitfulness; empty pretense. (noun)
  • One who assumes a false character; an impostor: "He a man! Hell! He was a hollow sham!” ( Joseph Conrad). (noun)
  • A decorative cover made to simulate an article of household linen and used over or in place of it: a pillow sham. (noun)
  • Not genuine; fake: sham diamonds; sham modesty. (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "sham" in a sentence
  • "Instead of this, we either put on a stock with a sham tie, (now all _sham_ things, of what kind soever, militate against good taste,) or else, to make the most of our scarf, we fill up the aperture of the waistcoat with an ambitious quantity of drapery, and we stick therein an enormous and obtrusively ostentatious pin."
  • "The term sham derives from the root shameful I believe."
  • "Also on Sunday, the Taliban vowed to attack polling places in Sept. 18 parliamentary elections, warning Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham vote."