fake out / fake-out

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fake out / fake-out

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:36 am

There are some words and phrases that I haven’t heard for years and this is one of them, although when I checked some news archives I found that it wasn’t all that uncommon:
<2012 “So yes, machines that converse like people are a total fake-out, and we know it. But psychology is a funny thing–as when we are watching a great magic show, we’re delighted even when we know it’s all a trick.”—Scientific American, January, page 31>[[in reference to iPhone’s magical answer-lady, Siri]]
Fake-out was such a frequently used expression when I was growing up in New York City that if you didn’t hear it at least twice a day, something was wrong. So, when I saw it in the above article it rang a distant bell.

Fake-out is both a verb and noun (with noun usually hyphenated and verb not), but it appears in precious few dictionaries, slang or standard, that I could find, and when a date is given it’s usually wrong except, that is, in the December 2011 update of the OED.


FAKE OUT verb [. . . 1940s and still in use]: To fool, to get the better of

FAKE OUT noun [1950s and still in use]: (U.S.) A bluff, a deception, and unpleasant surprise. [from the verb]


FAKE OUT verb [1949]: Originally Football & Basketball To fool (an opponent) with a feint; (hence, in general use) to bluff; fool [[dupe]]; get the better of.
<1949 “If they are faked out they are lost temporarily.”—Notre Dame by Leahy, page 69>

<1956 “Someone who gets into the traffic pattern before you or taxies out in front of you, has ‘faked you out’ . . .”—American Speech, XXXI, page 238>

<1959 “N.Y.C. schoolboy: Man, he really faked you out!”> [[Aha! Yes!]]
FAKE-OUT noun [1959]: A feint of bluff; (broadly) an unpleasant surprise.
<1959 “N.Y.C. schoolboys: What a fake-out! . . .School’s just a fake-out to get you to do what you’re told. . . The Coke machine was empty! What a fake-out!> [[Eureka!]]

<1967 “I groaned, and it wasn’t all fake-out.”—The Outsiders by Hinton, page 128>


Note: The verb is not listed.

FAKE-OUT noun colloquial (originally and chiefly North American): A deception or deliberate misrepresentation; a bluff, scam, or trick.
<1928 “The saying, ‘What you don't know won't hurt you,’ is the biggest fake out’”—Warren Morning Mirror (Pennsylvania), 8 June, page 15/8>

<1940 “. . . waiting to fake out a would-be tackler.”—Lowell Sun (Massachusetts), 4 November, page 22>

<1976 “But South's only chance of playing in Six or Seven Diamonds would be his pass of Five Diamonds and his subsequent fake-out when his partner doubled Spades.”—Times (London), 7 February, page 14/4>

<1993 “People foul out of the game—sometimes the result of fake-outs by other players.”—Cottage Life (Toronto), June, page 17/4>

<2006 “What looks like a . . . scroll wheel, though, is a fakeout. It doesn't turn, and it's not touch-sensitive.”—New York Times (National edition), 9 November, page C8/1>

<2011 “Wall smiled as he tried to use misdirection to fake out his teammates, . . .”—Washington Post, 11 December>
(quotes from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources)

Ken G – January 14, 2012

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