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The word hoax has been in use since the late 1700s, and is still popular today. We will examine the definition of the word hoax, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A hoax is a deception, a lie or a trick that is designed to appear true and fool others into believing in its truth. A hoax may be malicious and perpetrated in order to harm someone, or a hoax may be humorous and perpetrated for entertainment. April Fools’ Day hoaxes are commonly orchestrated for the amusement of onlookers. For example, in 1957 the BBC broadcast a famous April Fools’ Day hoax on harvesting spaghetti from spaghetti trees. However, a hoax may be serious when it damages reputations, influences public policy or steers elections. Hoax may be used as a noun or a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are hoaxes, hoaxed, hoaxing, hoaxer. The word hoax is derived from the word hocus, which in the 1700s meant to cheat or befuddle.


For two years, Donald Trump — as both candidate and president — has frequently dismissed the notion of Russian meddling in U.S. elections as a “hoax” and even denigrated heads of U.S. intelligence agencies for suggesting otherwise. (USA Today)

The sheriffs of Manatee and Sarasota counties want the public to know that an image referencing a potential school shooting that is circulating on social media is a hoax and that there is no local threat. (The Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

“I worked with someone who kind of hoaxed us when we were in college and working together,” recalls Young, Emory University Distinguished Professor, who now serves as director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem and is the newly named poetry editor of the New Yorker magazine. (Emory News)