Definition of false in US English:



  • 1Not according with truth or fact; incorrect.

    ‘the allegations were false’
    ‘the test can produce false results’
    • ‘It will also be a criminal offence to give false or misleading information to the Ombudsman Commission.’
    • ‘Now, I expect that you will not take three months to publicly apologize for spreading false truths about me.’
    • ‘In recent years, I have become convinced that one of the biggest obstacles to information security is incorrect reasoning based on false analogies.’
    • ‘This study points out that most of the published results of medical research are, in fact, false.’
    • ‘However, when the information is false, malicious, misleading and is a personal attack on me, then I feel I have no other choice but to defend myself and set the record straight.’
    • ‘She lashed out at ‘certain media organisations [that] have distorted facts and spread false rumours’.’
    • ‘There are three main aspects of market abuse - misuse of information, creating false / misleading impressions, and distortion.’
    • ‘Another abuse of the freedom of expression would be to make a false statement of fact that others could be expected to rely upon when making a decision to purchase something.’
    • ‘Those found to have released false or misleading information face criminal prosecution and fines of up to HK $10 million.’
    • ‘Unproven claims cleverly mask the truth with false doctrines about nature's workings that distort unsuspecting perceptions of reality.’
    • ‘We make no claim that something is incorrect, false, or erroneous.’
    • ‘Modal logic has a more sophisticated truth definition in which formulas are not simply globally true or false; their truth depends on your point of view.’
    • ‘He has gathered evidence of corruption and fraud and collected his findings in a vast private archive that will now be his main weapon in sorting out the truth from propaganda and false allegations.’
    • ‘Someone was in fact willing to defend spreading rumors and false information on the Internet!’
    • ‘Why did the minister provide false and misleading information to the South Australian police minister?’
    • ‘The distinction between natural and artificial chemical is a false one, used by advertisers to market a product and usually at a higher cost!’
    • ‘A lack of diligence in these responsibilities will result in the company being accused of making false statements of material facts in financial reports.’
    • ‘He was found guilty of sexual harassment, making false mileage claims, giving false or misleading information to the club's marketing committee and gross incompetence.’
    • ‘Her statement, however, is incorrigibly abstract and false in its application to the circumstances.’
    • ‘Both facts are, of course, true in one sense - but putting them together without the third fact gives a completely false impression.’
    incorrect, untrue, wrong, erroneous, fallacious, faulty, flawed, distorted, inaccurate, inexact, imprecise, invalid, unfounded
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    1. 1.1 Not according with rules or law.
      ‘false imprisonment’
      • ‘Two men, both from Rochdale and aged 30 and 31, were arrested on suspicion of kidnap, false imprisonment and sexual assault.’
      • ‘He was given a life sentence in March this year after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm, false imprisonment and threats to kill.’
      • ‘From what I'm hearing about the allegations, they don't mention anything about false imprisonment or kidnapping.’
      • ‘She was charged with a felony count of false imprisonment and a gross misdemeanor count of criminal sexual conduct.’
      • ‘Both were convicted of indecently assaulting one victim, two charges of kidnapping, one of attempted kidnapping and three of false imprisonment.’
      • ‘He was arrested later that day, and on May 17 this year was convicted of rape, false imprisonment and indecent assault at Maidstone Crown Court.’
      • ‘Action to prevent a forced marriage currently has to be brought about through laws on false imprisonment, threatening behaviour, harassment or assault.’
      • ‘The accused, who were all Chinese and from London, admitted various charges including grievous bodily harm, kidnap and false imprisonment.’
      • ‘Donald Fisher, who is accused of false imprisonment and assault, admitted using a rope to bind the 15-year-old boy's hands behind his back.’
  • 2Appearing to be the thing denoted; deliberately made or meant to deceive.

    ‘a false passport’
    ‘check to see if the trunk has a false bottom’
    • ‘Mr North removed the bottom portion of the false wall and found measures of damp using a resistance machine but his wife insists that this has not been investigated fully by the inspectors.’
    • ‘Ships, towns, and whole armies might fly or display false arms to deceive the enemy.’
    • ‘On August 8 2000 the Iraqi was deported from Australia and a stamp inside his false passport is evidence of that date of departure.’
    • ‘One had stayed illegally after her six-month visa had expired, the other had been in the UK for some years after being brought into the country on a false passport.’
    • ‘In February 2002, a Kenyan diamond dealer based in Liberia was arrested in Belgium on charges of criminal association and using a false passport.’
    • ‘He faced Labor attacks over claims members of his Department encouraged failed asylum seekers to obtain false passports.’
    • ‘We are very concerned that someone is attempting to get hold of original certificates, which could then be used to obtain false documentation such as passports or for other fraudulent purposes.’
    • ‘Officers at the airport discovered 5.5kg of cocaine worth €400,000 in the false bottom of a suitcase when they stopped a man on Thursday evening.’
    • ‘He admitted helping people to get hold of false passports and Sim cards for mobile phones but denied any involvement in the credit card fraud.’
    • ‘All three had been travelling on false passports.’
    • ‘A court heard how 30 fake Belgian and ten false French passports were found in the lining of a bag after Customs officers checked luggage off a flight from Zurich.’
    • ‘Its activists can hide themselves among the civilian population and, using false identities and fake passports, they can move easily across international borders.’
    • ‘The trio were arrested by the Colombian authorities in August 2001 and accused of travelling on false passports and training the FARC militia.’
    • ‘Six weeks ago, using a false passport, he apparently sneaked into the United States and decided to seek political asylum on the basis of his past relations with the CIA.’
    • ‘A Yorkshire takeaway owner who helped obtain false passports for failed Turkish asylum-seekers so they could stay longer in Britain has been jailed for 18 months.’
    • ‘They had been travelling on false British and Irish passports when they were arrested on August 11 as they prepared to board a flight to Paris.’
    • ‘Customs and Excise officers x-rayed his suitcase full of women's clothing he claimed was his girlfriend's and then ripped open its false bottom to uncover the drugs.’
    • ‘He said he was arrested in Indonesia last year while travelling to Australia on a false South African passport and deported here on November 1.’
    • ‘A bag stuffed with fake passports and false IDs found abandoned near Heathrow airport may be linked to West Yorkshire.’
    • ‘Basildon police and immigration officers are hunting a Nigerian conman who has fleeced several banks and may be creating false passports for other criminals.’
    1. 2.1 Artificial.
      ‘false eyelashes’
      • ‘A generation ago, women were asking each other why they were wasting half the day fitting corsets and false eyelashes, and the other half trying to perfect an orange souffle.’
      • ‘Traditional false eyelashes are uncomfortable and difficult to apply.’
      • ‘Giselle blinked with her long, false eyelashes, then began to lead the way, Desiree trailing behind her.’
      • ‘Cohen saw potential in a beauty parlour where women could get make-up done, have eyebrows plucked or false eyelash extensions applied.’
      • ‘Her make-up was all warm brown and dark black tones, and if Anne's wasn't mistaken… she was wearing false eyelashes.’
      • ‘For a subtle effect, use only half a false eyelash on the outer corner of each eye; apply from the outer edge in.’
      • ‘For glamorous eyes, we'd use false eyelashes, although we'd cut them in half to avoid looking too artificial.’
      • ‘They had false eyelashes, they had shaven their eyebrows, and they had coloured in 12 tones from the eyelash up to the eyebrows.’
      fake, artificial, imitation, synthetic, simulated, reproduction, replica, ersatz, faux, plastic, man-made, dummy, mock, sham, bogus, so-called
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    2. 2.2 Feigned.
      ‘a horribly false smile’
      • ‘She went through the days with a false smile; going to work, making dinner, doing the laundry.’
      • ‘Even your smiles are false, and awkward to behold.’
      • ‘She met the stranger's with her best false smile.’
      • ‘‘Different look, but the same person inside,’ he said, his smile not false.’
      • ‘She grinned, the smile feeling false on her face.’
      • ‘However, she had to continue her façade of being a noble lady, so she simply forced a false smile onto her face.’
      • ‘It's more a quest for the tiny slices of life, the images not posed, not burdened by forced smiles or false camaraderie.’
      • ‘I forced a smile, a lying, deceitful, false smile, as if that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard.’
      • ‘Emerald smiled faintly, but the smile seemed false.’
      • ‘Nobara walked quickly down the stairs, looking from side to side, flashing a false smile to the crowd.’
      • ‘They still wore somber colors and false smiles.’
      • ‘She gave him a false smile and dissolved into a bout of strong tears, overwhelmed with emotion of such change that had taken place and yearning for her real home, the home she belonged in.’
      • ‘They use scantily clad models and people who offer false smiles to convince me that their goods (which are usually bad for me) are fun and harmless.’
      • ‘I stifled a false sob and smiled weakly, as in my mind I thought how ridiculous this whole situation was.’
      • ‘Soon I would be thrust into the upper-class whirlwind of lies and false smiles.’
      • ‘Crystal approached her with a motherly smile and a false calm performance.’
      • ‘She had composed herself and was full of polite words and false smiles.’
      • ‘The rides look old and crummy, paint peeling, false smiles painted on everything.’
      • ‘Another small gem goes like this: ‘Resist whispered speech and false pleasant smiles when in the boss's company.’’
      • ‘Faith said with false sympathy that sounded sincere.’
  • 3Illusory; not actually so.

    ‘sunscreens give users a false sense of security’
    • ‘In the darker months, schoolchildren particularly would venture on to the moor, lulled into a false sense of security because it would be ‘an official cycleway’.’
    • ‘The globalisation of the English language, especially in trade and politics, has lulled Western intelligence agencies into a false sense of national security.’
    • ‘Perhaps most sinister of all was how the picturesque splendor and tranquil beauty of Beard's Hollow lulled my fiancée Cheryl and me into a false sense of security.’
    • ‘Cruising on a motorway is undemanding and lures drivers into a false sense of security, many of them feeling that just one hand loosely resting on the bottom of the steering wheel is adequate for control.’
    • ‘Yet this merely lulls you into a false sense of security, as you imagine you are about to be taken on a trip down memory lane.’
    • ‘The moral of the story: a Virus Scanner that is not regularly updated - at least monthly, but weekly is better - just provides you with a false sense of security.’
    • ‘It's a false sense of security that they are actually holding on to.’
    • ‘Managers somehow believe that by avoiding the media and keeping a low profile, that the opposition can be lulled into a false sense of security.’
    • ‘As far as events on-field go, you will know that our top-secret plan of attempting to lull the opposition into a false sense of security by performing abysmally in the pool games almost came off.’
    • ‘And as Mr Mayhew was aware of the defect, and was hoping to take advantage of the landlords' mistake, he lulled them into a false sense of security by not taking this point.’
    • ‘The review has not produced any dramatic u-turns, and certainly not a management clear-out (unless Olver is lulling us all into a false sense of security).’
    • ‘We see people winning the game and losing, and those that think they are winning are fooled into a false security that actually makes them losers.’
    • ‘He blames the long sweeping S-bend at Broad Oak for lulling drivers into a false sense of security and says that although the stretch of road has a 40 mph limit drivers use it like a race track.’
    • ‘But the US vetoed the protocol, claiming that it would create a false sense of security while not actually catching cheats.’
    • ‘We made a plea to all hill-goers using this type of aid: learn how to use it (in a safer environment) before you go on the hill, do not let it replace common sense and let it give a false sense of security.’
    • ‘Teaching kids that men are inherently evil is as wrong as teaching them that the world contains no bad whatsoever - a false picture, a false sense of security.’
    • ‘Now several papers are suggesting the election battle may be much closer in key marginal seats and that Michael Howard is trying to lull Labour and its supporters into a false sense of security in order to sneak a victory.’
    • ‘Welcome to the idiosyncratic world of Boothby Graffoe - the guitarist comic who lulls his audience into a false sense of security before jolting them with well-aimed barbs.’
    • ‘This horrifying phenomenon has yet to reach the UK, but there is little doubt that prime-time television coverage of plastic surgery is lulling the public into a false sense of security.’
    • ‘The report went on to suggest that the much talked about availability of infertility treatments was lulling women into a false sense of security, with many believing IVF was a reliable and easy option.’
    delusory, delusional, delusive
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    1. 3.1attributive Used in names of plants, animals, and gems that superficially resemble the thing properly so called, e.g., false oat, false killer whale.
      • ‘Animals like the false killer whale and bottlenose dolphin show how much variety is possible by purely natural means.’
      • ‘Other plants are false nettle, a pink Saint-John's wort, and two species of white-flowered smartweeds.’
      • ‘False oats grass looks a little like oats because of the shape and position of the flowers on the stalk.’
      • ‘The whole family fortune is lavished upon diadems and necklaces of true or false gems. They have no other wealth.’
      • ‘Although suffering from an overabundance of names, false holly makes a handsome evergreen accent at the back of the border.’
  • 4Treacherous; unfaithful.

    ‘a false lover’
    • ‘True in love ever be, unless thy lover's false to thee.’
    faithless, unfaithful, disloyal, untrue, inconstant, false-hearted, treacherous, traitorous, perfidious, two-faced, janus-faced, double-dealing, double-crossing, deceitful, deceiving, deceptive, dishonourable, dishonest, duplicitous, hypocritical, untrustworthy, unreliable
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  • false position

    • A situation in which one is compelled to act in a manner inconsistent with one's true nature or principles.

      • ‘An overt ritual would not be natural to me, so it would put both of us into a slightly false position.’
      • ‘In any relationship there will be give and take, so you have to operate from a position of self awareness, or else you enter the give and take aspect from a false position and end up making decisions built on nonresistant values.’
      • ‘It put them in a false position as they categorically denied the existence of any bonded labourers in those areas.’
      • ‘Has she been led into a false position by eager cynics who have sacrificed nothing and who would happily surrender unconditionally to the worst enemy that currently faces civilization?’
      • ‘Even in the kitchen, Bourdain feels himself to be in a false position; aggressive bravado and loud-mouthed bravura are his means of self-defence.’


Old English fals ‘fraud, deceit’, from Latin falsum ‘fraud’, neuter past participle of fallere ‘deceive’; reinforced or re-formed in Middle English from Old French fals, faus ‘false’.