25 Synonyms for “Deceptive” and “Fake

By Mark Nichol

Many words related to deceptive and fake exist, but some have specific senses for distinctive usage. Here are some alternatives to these terms and the related words deceitful and false and their connotations.

1. Assumed: pretended, as in “an assumed name,” referring to a pseudonym used to conceal one’s identity (and, as a verb, to pretend); also, several unrelated meanings

2. Beguiling: deceptive, duplicitous, or diverting

3. Bogus: not genuine

4. Contrived: false or unnatural

5. Counterfeit: imitation or insincere

6. Delusory: deceptive

7. Dummy: imitation (and, as a noun, a mockup); also, several unrelated meanings

8. Ersatz: imitation or substitute (and generally inferior to the real thing)

9. Factitious: artificial or false

10. Fallacious: deceptive

11. Faux: imitation (usually in the sense of a design element or fashion item that deliberately mimics a more expensive material or fabric such as marble or fur)

12. Feigned: fictitious, or not genuine or real

13. Forged: imitation with intent to deceive; also, an unrelated meaning of being created by pressure and perhaps heat

14. Fraudulent: deceitful

15. Jive: deceitful (said of talk); also, superficial or foolish, or other unrelated meanings

16. Misleading: deceitful

17. Mock: imitation, in the senses of not being genuine or real

18. Phony: counterfeit, false, or fictitious; also, hypocritical

19. Pseudo: false (also a prefix in hyphenated and closed compounds such as pseudo-event and pseudopod)

20. Put-on: pretended

21. Sham: false, not genuine

22. Simulated: fake but intended or made to look genuine

23. Specious: deceptively attractive, or appearing genuine or truthful

24. Spurious: deceitful or imitation

25. Synthetic: not genuine; also, several unrelated meanings

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3 Responses to “25 Synonyms for “Deceptive” and “Fake”

  • Dale A. Wood

    “Pseudo: false (also a prefix in hyphenated and closed compounds such as pseudo-event and pseudopod)”

    I don’t think that “pseudo” is ever used (properly) for anything but a prefix, and in fact, I will say it stronger than that: Don’t use “pseudo” for anything but a prefix. Also, this prefix does not need a hyphen except in cases that would produce “oo” and when the stem word is a proper noun or adjective. Note: pseudo-orthodox, pseudo-French, pseudo-Sanskrit, pseudo-Oriental, pseudo-Babylonian.

    Don’t waste your money on any pseudo-Oriental or pseudo-Babylonian works of art or artifacts. Don’t buy any “Oriental rugs” that upon close examination are found to have been made in Bolivia or the Bahamas – just to make up a couple of examples.

    The most important word that has “pseudo” as a prefix is “pseudoscientific” because of the many pseudoscientific ideas and beliefs that abound now, or have abounded recently, such as homeopathy, ESP, Communism, Dianetics, and “remote viewing”. Acupuncture has also been shown to be pseudoscientific.

    D.A.W.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “Spurious” is not necessarily something that is deceitful of imitation.
    A much more common meaning of “spurious” is that which happens because of random processes or perceptions.

    For example, go outdoors on a sunny summer afternoon with many puffy (cumulous) clouds in the sky. Watch those clouds for a while (maybe hours, and on different days) and you might very well see the figure of an elephant or a whale in the sky! Houses! Castles! These are all spurous visions because the actual shapes of the clouds are random in nature – to a great degree – and also because the human mind has a way of perceiving images in random patterns.

    Then there are the people who got the (rather odd) idea of listening to phonograph records while they were being played backwards. (Why did anyone do this to begin with?) If you listen to enough of the noise that comes out of the player, your brain can put together spurious messages like “Worship Satan”, “LSD is groovy”, and “McCartney is dead.”
    Actually, I read that years before John Lennon was murdered, some people listened to Beatles records backwards, and some of them heard the spurious “message” that “John is dead”.

    I am an electronics engineer who specializes in sophisticated radio communication systems, and something that happens because of random noise in the receivers, sometimes they give out spurious messages. On of our goals as engineers in this field is to design and build the receivers so that the spurious messages are very rare and very brief. In takes a lot of ingenuity, a lot of study, and a lot of hard work to make them so, but we can do it.

    D.A.W.

  • Rhian

    Ersatz of course is a German word and simply means replacement without any inference of reduced quality.

    Replacement car parts, including original parts from the manufacturer or third part parts are all Ersatzteil (replacement parts)

    Also used in sports where an Ersatzspieler is a replacement player, perhaps there is an implication of being lesser quality as the player was not in the team from the beginning.

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