from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Variant of phony.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. 1900 Fraudulent; fake; having a misleading appearance.
  • n. A person who assumes an identity or quality other than their own.
  • n. A person who professes beliefs or opinions that they do not hold.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. imitating something superior; intended to deceive; fraudulent; having a misleading appearance; not genuine; counterfeit; fake.
  • adj. pretending to be other than one is; putting on false appearances; insincere; hypocritical; -- of people.
  • n. something or someone that is phony.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives
  • adj. fraudulent; having a misleading appearance


Perhaps an alteration of fawney “gilt brass ring used by swindlers” (1781), from Irish fáinne “ring.” (Wiktionary)


Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • I'd rather take pictures with a real camera than with a phoney.

    July 14, 2011

  • said to derive from the Irish word 'fainne'

    February 19, 2007