Definition of hoax in English:



  • A humorous or malicious deception.

    ‘the evidence had been planted as part of an elaborate hoax’
    [as modifier] ‘a hoax 999 call’
    • ‘A funeral urn full of ashes left in a Salford cab may have been part of an elaborate hoax by Irish pranksters.’
    • ‘The police say they are following a definite line of inquiry into the hoax call and hope to bring the culprit to justice shortly.’
    • ‘A suspicious device discovered outside the home of a prison officer turned out to be an elaborate hoax.’
    • ‘These hoax messages promise free products if the message is forwarded to a certain number of people.’
    • ‘Many companies are plagued by urban legends, scams, and hoaxes delivered by e-mail.’
    • ‘He spoke on pranks, frauds, and hoaxes from around the world.’
    • ‘It's not beyond people to conduct elaborate online hoaxes for any number of reasons that all really boil down to a means of getting attention.’
    • ‘Agent Bald, let's talk about the phone calls that the suspects say they made that were treated as hoaxes or jokes and nobody paid attention.’
    • ‘But no accident was discovered and police are treating the incident as a malicious hoax call.’
    • ‘I wonder how many hoaxes and scams are happening in that part of the world as we speak?’
    • ‘Of course, with the aid of mirrors, it was all an elaborate hoax with a master hidden inside making the moves.’
    • ‘To be more precise, it began with a hoax newspaper story in Chicago.’
    • ‘As I speculated before, it could be that he is the victim of an elaborate hoax.’
    • ‘Hinton, himself, was one who enjoyed playing hoaxes and jokes on others.’
    • ‘It leads with a report that two ambulance crew have been suspended after claims they made a hoax emergency call to colleagues.’
    • ‘Apart from the links, there is sound advice on using the net for genealogy, including tips about how to spot scams and hoaxes.’
    • ‘A hoax bomb, consisting of a plastic bag with wires and batteries taped to it, was found inside the concert hall on the same day.’
    • ‘There were histories of strange animals, most of which had since been identified and in a few cases turned out to be outright hoaxes or jokes.’
    • ‘They organised elaborate hoaxes like the bestowing of imaginary honours, which he appears to have accepted with due solemnity.’
    • ‘Whether malicious or good willed, what all hoaxes seem to have in common is an element of gaining power over somebody.’
    practical joke, joke, jest, prank, trick, jape
    ruse, deception, fraud, imposture, cheat, swindle, bluff, humbug, confidence trick
    con, spoof, scam, fast one, put-on
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  • Trick or deceive (someone).

    • ‘Then he turned to hoaxing the gullible, those who wanted to believe in ‘miracle cures’.’
    • ‘As a rule I don't do anything about pleas such as this because I have been hoaxed in the past, but in this case I made an exception and forwarded the email to my address book list.’
    • ‘James also investigated the case and found that Tina was hoaxing her adoptive parents and using the media attention to assist her quest to find her biological parents.’
    • ‘When it came to hoaxing the general public, Barnum was very clever in the way he positioned himself.’
    • ‘A few years ago, of course, Frances, one of the girls, admitted that they had hoaxed everybody.’
    • ‘When I ask if he has ever run into any of the celebrities he has hoaxed, his initial response is to deconstruct the question.’
    • ‘It took a few hours, and the worldwide dissemination of the story, before the they realized it had been hoaxed.’
    • ‘His motive for hoaxing the world was clearly not financial, for he turned down opportunities of making a vast fortune from his story.’
    • ‘I now have reason to believe that in unraveling a hoax I was hoaxed myself.’
    • ‘No amount of fossil data will induce them to admit they are hoaxing their readers.’
    • ‘The newspaper later confirmed that it had been hoaxed and printed a front-page apology, with a pledge to donate money to charity.’
    • ‘It's just too cruel, they say - like hoaxing someone into believing they've won the lottery.’
    • ‘In fact, in 1999 he published a revised edition of the book which argued that not only was her work unreliable due to bad research, but that the poor woman had actually been hoaxed by a number of the islanders she spent time with.’
    • ‘I know that Ern Malley was not a real person, but a personality invented in order to hoax me.’
    play a practical joke on, play a joke on, play a jest on, play a prank on, trick, fool
    deceive, hoodwink, delude, dupe, take in, lead on, cheat, bluff, gull, humbug
    con, kid, have on, pull a fast one on, put one over on, take for a ride, lead someone up the garden path, pull the wool over someone's eyes
    sucker, snooker, hornswoggle
    pull a swifty on
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Late 18th century (as a verb): probably a contraction of hocus.