pre·tend / priˈtend/ • v. 1. speak and act so as to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it is not: I closed my eyes and pretended I was asleep she turned the pages and pretended to read. ∎ engage in a game or fantasy that involves supposing something that is not the case to be so: children pretending to be grownups. ∎ [tr.] give the appearance of feeling or possessing (an emotion or quality); simulate: she pretended a greater surprise than she felt. 2. [intr.] (pretend to) lay claim to (a quality or title): he cannot pretend to sophistication. • adj. inf. not really what it is represented as being; used in a game or deception: the children are pouring out pretend tea for the dolls.