Definition of impostor in English:


(also imposter)


  • A person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain.

    ‘the charity has warned anyone approached by the impostor to contact police immediately’
    • ‘From the beginning, professions mobilised themselves in their defence against quacks and impostors through associations or institutes.’
    • ‘These rapacious relations managed to poison her ears, arguing the new man was an impostor out to swindle her and them.’
    • ‘Two envelopes, A and B. Something to be signed and witnessed, just to prove I'm not an impostor; but would an impostor go to all this trouble?’
    • ‘The budding scientists of today will need to prepare themselves to do battle with silliness, impostors, tricksters and fraudsters.’
    • ‘If you poke them a bit (and maybe buy them a few drinks), many academics will confess to sometimes feeling like impostors perennially threatened with humiliating exposure.’
    • ‘The e-Vote system must cope with a bewildering array of potential electoral chicanery: impostors, double voters, and enforcers.’
    • ‘On his part, he had no doubts that the claimant was an impostor and his supporters fools and rogues.’
    • ‘Everyone thought I knew what I was doing, but I felt like a fraud, an impostor, the Great Pretender!’
    • ‘It is, then, not only the impostor's willingness to deceive on which their success depends, but the fact that we are on the whole astonishingly trusting and generally do not expect to be lied to.’
    • ‘He turned detective, tracked down the impostor and called the police.’
    • ‘Her harshest critics consider her to be ‘one of most accomplished, ingenious, and interesting impostors in history.’’
    • ‘But even apart from the reactionary content of their politics, the dearth of substantive analysis brands them as charlatans and imposters.’
    • ‘Socrates concluded that the ethics experts of his time were impostors, or to be more precise, that they were flatterers who had a knack for telling affluent Athenians just what they wanted to hear.’
    • ‘And are self-defined ‘radical feminists’ really as radical as they believe, or has the term been hijacked by impostors with decidedly conservative values?’
    • ‘As Kipling put it in his poem: ‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same…’’
    • ‘According to the GAO, the majority of passport fraud uncovered in 2004 involved imposters using legitimate identification documents belonging to someone else.’
    • ‘Purple Hearts are only given to American soldiers killed or injured in battle, and there have recently been cases of impostors using fake military medals to get ahead in business.’
    • ‘Those atrocity stories had been made up by impostors, many of whom had never even been in Vietnam.’
    • ‘Original, well thought-out ideas will be rewarded and impostors won't last.’
    • ‘Almost from the moment he died, and it was revealed that he was not an Apache halfbreed but an Englishman, Grey Owl has been depicted largely as a fake or fraud, an impostor.’
    impersonator, masquerader, pretender, deceiver, hoaxer
    fake, fraud, sham, humbug
    charlatan, quack, mountebank
    trickster, fraudster, swindler, hoodwinker, bluffer, deluder, duper, cheat, cheater, defrauder, exploiter, rogue, wolf in sheep's clothing
    phoney, conman, con artist, flimflammer, flimflam man
    confidence man, confidence woman
    View synonyms


Late 16th century (in early use spelled imposture, and sometimes confused with imposture in meaning): from French imposteur, from late Latin impostor, contraction of impositor, from Latin imponere (see impose).