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 suspicious device discovered outside the home of a prison officer turned out to be an elaborate hoax.’
    • ‘To be more precise, it began with a hoax newspaper story in Chicago.’
    • ‘Hinton, himself, was one who enjoyed playing hoaxes and jokes on others.’
    • ‘But no accident was discovered and police are treating the incident as a malicious hoax call.’
    • ‘They organised elaborate hoaxes like the bestowing of imaginary honours, which he appears to have accepted with due solemnity.’
    • ‘Many companies are plagued by urban legends, scams, and hoaxes delivered by e-mail.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Of course, with the aid of mirrors, it was all an elaborate hoax with a master hidden inside making the moves.’
    • ‘These hoax messages promise free products if the message is forwarded to a certain number of people.’
    • ‘I wonder how many hoaxes and scams are happening in that part of the world as we speak?’
    • ‘As I speculated before, it could be that he is the victim of an elaborate hoax.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whether malicious or good willed, what all hoaxes seem to have in common is an element of gaining power over somebody.’
    • ‘He spoke on pranks, frauds, and hoaxes from around the world.’
    • ‘It leads with a report that two ambulance crew have been suspended after claims they made a hoax emergency call to colleagues.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 funeral urn full of ashes left in a Salford cab may have been part of an elaborate hoax by Irish pranksters.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Apart from the links, there is sound advice on using the net for genealogy, including tips about how to spot scams and hoaxes.’
    practical joke, joke, jest, prank, trick, jape
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  • Trick or deceive (someone).

    • ‘It's just too cruel, they say - like hoaxing someone into believing they've won the lottery.’
    • ‘The newspaper later confirmed that it had been hoaxed and printed a front-page apology, with a pledge to donate money to charity.’
    • ‘His motive for hoaxing the world was clearly not financial, for he turned down opportunities of making a vast fortune from his story.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I now have reason to believe that in unraveling a hoax I was hoaxed myself.’
    • ‘A few years ago, of course, Frances, one of the girls, admitted that they had hoaxed everybody.’
    • ‘I know that Ern Malley was not a real person, but a personality invented in order to hoax me.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It took a few hours, and the worldwide dissemination of the story, before the they realized it had been hoaxed.’
    • ‘When I ask if he has ever run into any of the celebrities he has hoaxed, his initial response is to deconstruct the question.’
    • ‘No amount of fossil data will induce them to admit they are hoaxing their readers.’
    • ‘When it came to hoaxing the general public, Barnum was very clever in the way he positioned himself.’
    • ‘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.’
    play a practical joke on, play a joke on, play a jest on, play a prank on, trick, fool
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Late 18th century (as a verb): probably a contraction of hocus.