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pretend (v.)

late 14c., "to profess, assert, maintain" (a claim, etc.), "to direct (one's) efforts," from Old French pretendre "to lay claim," from Latin praetendere "stretch in front, put forward, allege," from prae "before" (see pre-) + tendere "to stretch," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch."

Main modern sense of "feign, put forward a false claim" is recorded from c. 1400; the older sense of simply "to claim" is behind the string of royal pretenders (1690s) in English history. 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.

pretend (n.)

"fact of pretending," 1888, from children's talk, from pretend (v.). Earlier in same sense was verbal noun pretending (1640s).

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Definitions of pretend from WordNet
1
pretend (v.)
make believe with the intent to deceive;
Synonyms: feign / sham / affect / dissemble
pretend (v.)
behave unnaturally or affectedly;
Synonyms: dissemble / act
pretend (v.)
put forward a claim and assert right or possession of;
pretend the title of King
pretend (v.)
put forward, of a guess, in spite of possible refutation;
I cannot pretend to say that you are wrong
Synonyms: guess / venture / hazard
pretend (v.)
represent fictitiously, as in a play, or pretend to be or act like;
Synonyms: make / make believe
pretend (v.)
state insincerely;
She pretends to be an expert on wine
She pretended not to have known the suicide bomber
Synonyms: profess
2
pretend (n.)
the enactment of a pretense;
it was just pretend
Synonyms: make-believe
3
pretend (adj.)
imagined as in a play;
dangling their legs in the water to catch pretend fish
Synonyms: make-believe
From wordnet.princeton.edu