Definition of phony in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfōnē/
(also phoney) informal

adjective (phonier, phoniest)

Not genuine; fraudulent: I thought your accent was a bit phony
More example sentences
  • The 1990s was a decade of fraudulent privatisations, phony education and poverty alleviating campaigns.
  • So what touchstone can we use to distinguish genuine from phoney forwardists?
  • Sadly, phoney clinics offer spurious tests which will diagnose allergies in virtually anybody.
bogus, false, fake, fraudulent, spurious;
counterfeit, forged, feigned;
pseudo, imitation, sham, man-made, mock, ersatz, synthetic, artificial;
simulated, pretended, contrived, affected, insincere, inauthentic
informal pretend, put-on

noun (plural phonies)

A fraudulent person or thing.
Example sentences
  • I'm a fake, a phony, a fraud, an impostor, and a charlatan of the worse degree.
  • Veterans call them by all sorts of names: phonies, fakes, imposters, wannabes.
  • Why are you playing the edges; why bother to debunk, why spend your time exposing people that are outright frauds, phonies, or who are merely self deluded?
impostor, sham, fake, fraud, charlatan
informal con artist
fake, imitation, counterfeit, forgery



Pronunciation: /ˈfōnilē/
Example sentences
  • In the interview, he phonily claims he ‘just wanted to have fun tonight.’
  • The newspaper's editorial asserts that the Oklahoma City bomber's comments reveal ‘a mind warped by self-induced militancy and by a detached, phonily objective language of profit and loss.’
  • ‘You wish he was’ Laena said, smiling phonily at Cam.


Pronunciation: /ˈfōnēnəs/
Example sentences
  • Holden Caulfield, the hero of JD Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, was its Shakespeare, articulating its half-formed hatred and its simmering resentment of phoniness.
  • The message has adolescence in it - he is dealing with questions of sincerity and phoniness - but the technique is, at the end of it, subtly mature.
  • It all smacks of phoniness and opportunism to me.


Late 19th century: of unknown origin.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pho·ny

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