Word of the Day

imposter

Definition

someone who pretends to be someone else, in order to trick people

Origin and usage

The word imposter, also spelled impostor, comes from the Late Latin word ‘impostor’ meaning ‘deceiver’. It first appeared in English in the 1580s and was used to mean ‘cheat, swindler’.



Examples

Imposter is a word that refers to a person who tries to trick others by pretending to be someone they are not. Imposters may use this kind of trickery to win favour with a specific person, to get ahead in school or at work, or for the sake of criminal activity — identity theft, for example, is a crime done by an imposter.

There is also a phenomenon known as ‘imposter syndrome’, first identified by psychologists in the late 1970s. People who suffer from imposter syndrome believe that they have achieved success not because of their skills or hard work, but because of good luck or some other factor that is out of their control. Instead of feeling confident in their talents, these people may feel that they don’t deserve all that they have accomplished. They may feel like imposters at work or at school, like they don’t really belong and that someone is sure to find them out and send them away.

Imposter syndrome can be overcome by making an effort to recall past successes, understanding that improvement happens with practice over time, remembering that everyone doubts themselves now and then, and that faking self-assurance can eventually lead to genuine confidence.

Quotations

“When I was younger, I just did it. I just acted. It was just there. So now when I receive recognition for my acting, I feel incredibly uncomfortable. I tend to turn in on myself. I feel like an imposter. It was just something I did.”
(Emma Watson)

Synonyms

liar, cheat, hypocrite

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is an award-winning, one-stop reference for English learners and speakers around the world.

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