Definition of shill in English:



North American
  • 1An accomplice of a confidence trickster or swindler who poses as a genuine customer to entice or encourage others.

    ‘I used to be a shill in a Reno gambling club’
    figurative ‘the agency is a shill for the nuclear power industry’
    • ‘So I suppose this makes me a member of the international neocon conspiracy as well as an evil shill for the oil industry.’
    • ‘We scoured financial documents and did our best to point out hype, but often felt like shills.’
    • ‘They may be shills eager to steer you into a favored silver or wood shop, which give them a cut.’
    • ‘In the authors' view, the temple of Christ has become a den of shills, and they provide copious evidence of ecclesial complicity in the cultural-industrial complex.’
    • ‘But I have trouble with the irreality of paid shills, whether bloggers, influencers, or everyday people, who debase social intercourse.’
    • ‘It's not like they didn't already have a bunch of ready made shills to ask softball questions.’
    • ‘Take it from one of those shills: if we are in the film-makers' pockets, then we're the lint.’
    • ‘Critics have argued that advocates for stricter standards for admissibility of expert evidence are mere shills for corporate defendants seeking to deny plaintiffs just compensation.’
    • ‘Moments later, with emotion in his voice, he added: ‘I would just feel like a shill if I didn't vote for what I thought was right.’
    • ‘Only government shills can do so without being murdered.’
    • ‘When he started, the joint had more top-ranked shills than just about anyone.’
    • ‘These are the industry shills posing as journalists who ‘report,’ usually loudly and breathlessly, on the doings of and goings-on among a hundred or two not very interesting people.’
    • ‘It makes them sound like shills for the corporate front offices, who hate to lose an hour of profit-making pap even in the middle of summer.’
    • ‘He has paid shills enter food contests so that he can go in and tear them apart.’
    • ‘He takes systematic aim at the architects of millennial economic opinion: journalists and columnists, cultural studies academics, ad-men, and the shills of the new management literature.’
    • ‘The carnival shill plays on the behavior of prospective customers in this way.’
    • ‘Maybe she has, maybe she hasn't, but surely the folks who are defending this episode based on whether it was technically illegal are the worst of all the shills out there.’
    • ‘Now, these folks should be fun to interview, but in order to get to them one must circumvent a gantlet of corporate shills with their characteristic high-viscosity personalities.’
    • ‘Sophisticated news consumers know that Clarke is a fraud and a shill for the campaign.’
    • ‘It just makes me laugh to see them get high and mighty about the blogosphere being shills for politicians.’
    1. 1.1A person who pretends to give an impartial endorsement of something in which they themselves have an interest.
      ‘a megamillionaire who makes more money as a shill for corporate products than he does for playing basketball’
      • ‘When their dual roles - that of journalist and government shill - were exposed last week, they offered mealy-mouthed defenses of their actions.’
      • ‘Is there a single person anywhere who studies gun policy who isn't just a shill for one side or the other?’
      • ‘I think it is outrageous that a paid shill for the UN is allowed to publish his views here, without disclosing his commercial relationship with the UN.’
      • ‘She is really a PR consultant, who candidly calls herself a "paid shill for the Bush administration."’
      • ‘With Bush being bashed as a shill for Big Oil, you'd think his energy plan would be dead and buried.’
      • ‘Not only is he wrong, he's a shill for the GOP, which makes for dull radio.’
      • ‘This is probably a good time to mention that a lot of this might sound like I am a shill for either Google or Flickr, trying to get you to go use their (free) services.’
      • ‘It was only later I realized that he was nothing more than a shill for the mescaline industry.’
      • ‘Exposing this fact promptly resulted in Steve being denounced as a shill for the Bush administration.’
      • ‘I should point out that I am not a movie industry shill, nor do I have any hidden adgenda.’
      • ‘I think it's pretty easy to be worried/outraged/upset by this Act without being a criminal if you have a little knowledge and imagination - or aren't an industry shill.’
      • ‘They regarded him as a corporate shill and deal-making party hack.’
      • ‘Williams used his syndicated column and radio and television appearances to tout the act, without publicly disclosing that he was a paid shill for the government.’
      • ‘This has gotten me labeled, in several online and offline arguments, as a "shill for the recording industry".’
      • ‘At the risk of seeming to be a shill for David Talbot, let me suggest that non-subscribers reconsider.’
      • ‘I'd bet money that that "researcher" was a shill for the makers of the product.’
      • ‘Why should anyone accept that you are really a person with valid opinions, and not just a government shill trying to make it look like someone still supports them?’
      • ‘So I suppose this makes me a member of the international neocon conspiracy as well as an evil shill for the oil industry.’


[NO OBJECT]North American
  • Act or work as a shill.

    ‘your husband in the crowd could shill for you’
    • ‘But he misses an opportunity to draw the connection between media-owned franchises and writers who shill for ownership's interests in their publications.’
    • ‘But it's one thing for a radio announcer to read promos between innings, quite another for a pair of TV announcers to pass themselves off as innocents as they shill.’
    • ‘Look at what your colleagues have done, have they ‘sold out’, simply became lucky, shilled themselves to the Hollywood set?’
    • ‘Look, you can shill for the conservative establishment all you like.’
    • ‘I'm normally not one to shill for corporate franchises.’
    • ‘The other is that many Western communist sympathizers were more than willing to shill for the communist state.’
    • ‘Worse, he suggests, they shilled for Wall Street, conflating the interests of the big banks with the financial health of the world.’
    • ‘And of course, it is clear that people have less and less a problem with being shilled to…’
    • ‘Hey, it's only my first day here and I already have an opportunity to shill for my new employers!’
    • ‘Quite clearly, he sees it as his job to shill these things.’
    • ‘To do that they shill for the people who pay them.’
    • ‘He shilled for the shipping magnate in his bid to lead the Liberals.’
    • ‘For that section I encourage you to shill for your favorite restaurant in the comments.’
    • ‘But Tom is as stalwart as the administration for which he shilled so continuously, before taking his book-writing sabbatical.’
    • ‘A patchwork of state regulations persist in his wake, frustrating the efforts of lawyers wishing to shill for themselves on TV.’
    • ‘Perhaps I'm cynical, perhaps even jaded… but to me, having your PR company shill the idea that you're charitable is shallow and classless, whether your motives are pure or not.’
    • ‘And celebrity shills sporting milk mustaches tell us that milk is rich in proteins, calcium, and vitamins - and very cool to boot.’
    • ‘We don't often shill for things on these pages, but when we do we're blunt about it and go all out.’
    • ‘To the left-wing nuts, the primary purpose of American journalism is to shill for big companies, start wars and generally undermine democracy.’
    • ‘I didn't want to shill their product simply because they treated me royally.’


Early 20th century: probably from earlier shillaber, of unknown origin.