Definition of phoney in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfəʊni/
(chiefly North American also phony) informal

adjective (phonier, phoniest)

Not genuine; fraudulent: phoney cruise-ship job offers
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, not genuine, sham, false, fake, fraudulent, forged, feigned, counterfeit, so-called, spurious, pseudo;
informal pretend, put-on
British informal, dated cod

noun (plural phoneys or 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?



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: /ˈfəʊnɪnəs/
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.

  • The fraudulent practice of the fawney-rig is probably the source of phoney ‘not genuine, fraudulent’, which was first recorded in the USA at the end of the 19th century. In 1823 Pierce Egan, a chronicler of popular pursuits and low life in England, described how the fawney-rig worked. ‘A fellow drops a brass ring, double gilt, which he picks up before the party meant to be cheated, and to whom he disposes of it for less than its supposed, and ten times more than its real, value.’ The word fawney came from Irish fáinne ‘a ring’. The phoney war was the period of comparative inaction at the beginning of the Second World War, between the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 and that of Norway in April 1940. The expression is now used of any coming confrontation, as in ‘the debates on tax in the pre-election phoney war’ (Earth Matters, 1997).

Words that rhyme with phoney

abalone, Albinoni, Annigoni, Antonioni, baloney, Bodoni, boloney, bony, calzone, cannelloni, canzone, cicerone, coney, conversazione, coronae, crony, Gaborone, Giorgione, macaroni, Manzoni, Marconi, mascarpone, minestrone, Moroni, Mulroney, padrone, panettoni, pepperoni, polony, pony, rigatoni, Shoshone, Sloaney, stony, Toni, tony, zabaglione

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pho¦ney

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