of unknown origin; attested in London criminal slang as adjective (1775, "counterfeit"), verb (1812, "to rob"), and noun (1851, "a swindle;" of persons 1888, "a swindler"), but probably older. A likely source is feague "to spruce up by artificial means," from German fegen "polish, sweep," also "to clear out, plunder" in colloquial use. "Much of our early thieves' slang is Ger. or Du., and dates from the Thirty Years' War" [Weekley]. Or it may be from Latin facere "to do." Century Dictionary notes that "thieves' slang is shifting and has no history."
The nautical word meaning "one of the windings of a cable or hawser in a coil" probably is unrelated, from Swedish veck "a fold." As a verb, "to feign, simulate" from 1941. To fake it is from 1915, jazz slang; to fake (someone) out is from 1940s, originally in sports. Related: Faked; fakes; faking.
The jazz musician's fake book is attested from 1951. Fake news "journalism that is deliberately misleading" is attested from 1894; popularized in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
1846, agent noun from fake (v.).
from French faux "false" (12c., see false). Used with English words at least since 1676 (Etheredge, faux-prude). Used by itself, with French pronunciation, from 1980s to mean "fake."
1530s, "born out of wedlock," formed in English (and replacing earlier illegitime, c. 1500), modeled on Late Latin illegitimus "not legitimate" (see il- + legitimate). Sense of "unauthorized, unwarranted" is from 1640s. Phrase illegitimi non carborundum, usually "translated" as "don't let the bastards grind you down," is fake Latin (by 1965, said to date from c. 1939). Carborundum was a brand of abrasives. Related: Illegitimately.
"one who acts as a decoy for a gambler, auctioneer, etc.," by 1911, in newspaper exposés of fake auctions, perhaps originally a word from U.S. circus or carnival argot and a shortened form of shilaber, shillaber (1908) "one who attempts to lure or customers," itself of unknown origin and also a surname. Carny slang often is deeply obscure. The verb, "act as a shill," is attested by 1914. Related: Shilled; shilling.
The auction game, as practice in Chicago on South State street, for instance, is a sordid affair, run according to cut and dried rules which admit of no freshness or originality. The list of employees is made up of one backer, or proprietor, two auctioneers, one pretty girl cashier, and from two to ten "shills," whose business it is to stand around in the crowd and make fake bids for the articles on sale. [The Chicago Sunday Tribune, May 12, 1912]
1811, "courageous," originally of fist fights, denoting a manful contest without fake falls, from the verbal phrase (early 12c. in sense "rise to one's feet"), from stand (v.) + up (adv.). To stand up "hold oneself against an opponent" is from c. 1600; as stand up to in the same sense from 1620s. To stand up for "defend the cause of" is from c. 1600. To stand (someone) up "fail to keep an appointment" is attested from 1902. Stand-up comic first attested 1966. Catch-phrase will the real _______ please stand up? is from the popular CBS game show "To Tell the Truth," which debuted in 1956.
also hobby-horse, 1550s, "mock horse used in the morris-dance;" 1580s, "child's toy riding horse," from hobby (n.) + horse (n.). Transferred sense of "favorite pastime or avocation" first recorded 1670s (shortened to hobby by 1816). The connecting notion being "activity that doesn't go anywhere."
The hobbyhorse originally was a "Tourney Horse," a wooden or basketwork frame worn around the waist and held on with shoulder straps, with a fake tail and horse head attached, so the wearer appears to be riding a horse. These were part of church and civic celebrations at Midsummer and New Year's throughout England.