"act or fact of pretending in imagination or play," 1888, from children's talk, from pretend (v.). Earlier in same sense was the verbal noun pretending (1640s).
Old English wolde, past tense and past subjunctive of willan "to will" (see will (v.)). Would-be (adj.) "wishing to be, vainly pretending" is first recorded c. 1300.
c. 1200, ipocrisie, "the sin of pretending to virtue or goodness," from Old French ypocrisie, from Late Latin hypocrisis "hypocrisy," also "an imitation of a person's speech and gestures," from Attic Greek hypokrisis "acting on the stage; pretense," metaphorically, "hypocrisy," from hypokrinesthai "play a part, pretend," also "answer," from hypo- "under" (see hypo-) + middle voice of krinein "to sift, decide" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish"). The sense evolution in Attic Greek is from "separate gradually" to "answer" to "answer a fellow actor on stage" to "play a part." The h- was restored in English 16c.
Hypocrisy is the art of affecting qualities for the purpose of pretending to an undeserved virtue. Because individuals and institutions and societies most often live down to the suspicions about them, hypocrisy and its accompanying equivocations underpin the conduct of life. Imagine how frightful truth unvarnished would be. [Benjamin F. Martin, "France in 1938," 2005]
Middle English lappewinke (late 14c.), lapwyngis (early 15c.), folk etymology alteration of Old English hleapewince "lapwing," probably literally "leaper-winker," from hleapan "to leap" (see leap (v.)) + wince "totter, waver, move rapidly," related to wincian "to wink" (see wink (v.)).
Said to be so called from "the manner of its flight" [OED] "in reference to its irregular flapping manner of flight" [Barnhart], but the lapwing also flaps on the ground pretending to have a broken wing to lure egg-hunters away from its nest, which seems a more logical explanation. Its Greek name was polyplagktos "luring on deceitfully."
c. 1300, "enfeebled; wearied, exhausted," from Old French faint, feint "false, deceitful; sham, artificial; weak, faint, lazy, indolent, cowardly," past participle of feindre "hesitate, falter, be indolent, show weakness, avoid one's duty by pretending," from Latin fingere "to touch, handle; devise; fabricate, alter, change" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). Also from c. 1300 as "deceitful; unreliable; false." Meaning "wanting in spirit or courage, cowardly" (a sense now mostly encountered in faint-hearted) is from early 14c. From early 15c. of actions, functions, colors, etc., "weak, feeble, poor." Meaning "producing a feeble impression upon the senses" is from 1650s.
late 14c., pretenden, "to profess, put forward as a statement or assertion, maintain" (a claim, etc.), "to direct (one's) efforts," from Old French pretendre "to lay claim," from Latin praetendere "stretch in front, spread before, put forward; put forward as an excuse, allege," from prae "before" (see pre-) + tendere "to stretch" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch").
Main modern sense of "feign, use as a pretext, put forward a false claim" is recorded from c. 1400; the older sense of simply "lay claim to" is behind the royal pretenders (1690s) in English history (see pretender). Meaning "to play, make believe" is recorded from 1865. In 17c. pretend also could mean "make a suit of marriage for," from a sense in French. Related: Pretended; pretending.
name for certain heretics, late 14c., also Loller, from Middle Dutch lollaerd, a word applied pejoratively to members of semi-monastic reforming sects active in the Low Countries from c. 1300 who devoted themselves to the care of the sick and poor. The Dutch word means literally "mumbler, mutterer, one who mutters prayers and hymns," from lollen "to mumble or doze."
They were so called by critics who saw in them heretics pretending to humble piety, from lollen "to mumble or doze." In transferred use it became the generic late Middle English term for groups suspected of heresy, especially followers of John Wyclif. Related: Lollardism (the modern word); Lollardy (the old one).
"figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of the literal meaning" (usually covert sarcasm under a serious or friendly pretense), c. 1500, from Latin ironia, from Greek eironeia "dissimulation, assumed ignorance," from eiron "dissembler," perhaps related to eirein "to speak," from PIE *wer-yo-, suffixed form of root *were- (3) "to speak" (see verb). Used in Greek of affected ignorance, especially that of Socrates, as a method of exposing an antagonist's ignorance by pretending to modestly seek information or instruction from him. Thus sometimes in English in the sense "simulated ignorance."
For nuances of usage, see humor (n.). In early use often ironia. Figurative use for "condition opposite to what might be expected; contradictory circumstances; apparent mockery of natural or expected consequences" is from 1640s, sometimes distinguished as irony of fate or irony of circumstances. Related: Ironist. A verb ironize "speak ironically" is recorded from c. 1600.
early 15c., "arranged in sequence, continuous" (a sense now obsolete); mid-15c., of persons, "expressing earnest purpose or thought, resolute," from Old French serios "grave, earnest" (14c., Modern French sérieux) and directly from Late Latin seriosus, from Latin serius "weighty, important, grave."
This is probably from a PIE root *sehro- "slow, heavy" (source also of Lithuanian sveriu, sverti "to weigh, lift," svarus "heavy, weighty;" Old English swær "heavy," German schwer "heavy," Gothic swers "honored, esteemed," literally "weighty").
According to Middle English Compendium, two sets of Latin stems "seem to have fallen together" in Medieval Latin: ser- (as in series, serere) and sēr- (as in sērius, sēriōsus, etc.), perhaps through semantic overlap, which accounts for the earlier Middle English record of the word, which seems to belong to the first stem.
As "in earnest, not pretending or jesting," from 1712; in reference to of music, theater, etc., "dealing with grave matters" by 1762. The meaning "attended with danger, giving grounds for alarm" is from 1800. Serious-minded is attested by 1845.