Hoax Meaning: Here’s What It Means And How To Use It

Do you know the meaning of hoax? If you don’t, read here for a complete guide to hoax’s meaning, its definitions, history, and more.

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Have you ever wondered what hoax means? It’s not just the name of a Taylor Swift song!

If you are a question-er who needs to find answers — or if you’re a clever prankster who loves to play tricks — the word hoax is a great one to add to your vocabulary lexicon. It’s a word that can liven up your writing and speech, and understanding it can bring greater clarity to your communications. 

With that in mind, today’s word of the day is hoax. By the end of this article, you will fully understand the word hoax, its definitions, and the history of how the word came to be. Let’s get started. 

What Is the Definition of Hoax? 

A hoax (pronounced hoʊks or hōks) is a mischievous plan to trick somebody. If you plan to pull off a clever trick or tell a lie, you could be described as trying to pull off a hoax.

A hoax can be bigger than a prank, deception, or practical joke. It could also be a conspiracy. Many people often claiming urban legends, scary stories, or even stories about actors or politicians are false by calling them a hoax. 

Hoax can be used as a noun or verb. Here are a few different definitions for the word hoax in each of its forms. 

As a Noun

  • A trick or plan, often performed in jest or as a distraction, that is carried out through deception
  • A myth or fake story

As a Verb

  • To deceive an individual or group of people with a hoax

The word hoax can invoke different definitions in different situations. The specific meaning can only be understood through the context in which it’s used. So, make sure you listen carefully to ascertain the meaning of hoax in a sentence. 

What Is the History of the Word Hoax? 

The etymology of the word hoax dates back several hundred years. There are several theories as to the specific origin of the word, but this is the most commonly accepted one: 

The word hoax’s oldest ancestor is the Latin phrase hoc est corpus meum, which translates to “this is my body.” This phrase was used quite commonly throughout history, as it was said in the Eucharist ceremony during Catholic Mass. This is the time during a service in which the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The phrase is a quote from Jesus during the story of the Last Supper found in the Bible in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22. 

In the 1600s, a parody of this phrase rose about in the English language amongst the jesters and magicians of the day: hocus pocus. Hoc est corpus meum was a term used to change bread into the body of Christ, so hocus pocus was used to pretend to perform a trick or illusion. 

By 1695, the phrase had been shortened simply to hocus. The next evolution of the term was the word we know today (hoax) as a contraction of hocus. The first known usage of the word was a century later, in 1796. Now hoax has become a popular word in American English and English worldwide.

What Are Some Examples of Hoax in Context?

To make the meaning of hoax even clearer, here are some example sentences with the word hoax:

There is no bomb threat at the airport; the anonymous tip was a hoax call. 

Grant lied and told his sister that there was a squirrel in her closet, but it wasn’t long before she found out it was all a cruel hoax.

My uncle believes in all of these conspiracies and hoaxes despite there being no evidence for them.

In early 2020, many people claimed that the pandemic was all just a big hoax. 

A ding dong ditch is where a person rings a doorbell on a random house and then runs away to make the homeowner think a person is actually at the door. It’s a common hoax amongst children.

What Are Hoax’s Synonyms? 

Here are some synonyms for the word hoax that you might find in a thesaurus: 

  • Humbug
  • Hoodwink
  • Scam
  • Swindle
  • Bamboozle
  • Bluff
  • Con
  • Deceive
  • Dupe
  • Fool 
  • Sting
  • Conspiracy
  • Gull

What Are Hoax’s Antonyms?

Here are some antonyms for the word hoax:

  • Honesty 
  • Truth

What Other Forms of Hoax Are There? 

As was discussed earlier in this article, hoax can be used as a noun to describe a lie or deception, but it can also be used as a verb to describe the action of telling or enacting a hoax. The word hoaxer is also used to describe a person presenting or telling a hoax.

Hoax in Popular Culture

In popular culture today, it has become increasingly common to call something a hoax. With the rise of social media and the internet, conspiracy theories, deceptions, lies, and hoaxes are running rampant, trending for a moment and then disappearing the next. It creates a mayhem of conflicting stories and facts. The word hoax is commonly used to discredit a claim or opinion of an opponent, even when their claim might be correct. 

President Donald Trump famously uses the word, constantly claiming that his opponents are inventing hoaxes to try and discredit him. 


The word hoax is a commonly used word in popular culture, politics, and more. It is becoming increasingly important to understand the meaning of this word and how to use it so that you can keep up with the discourse around a particular subject. And now you know everything you need to know about the word hoax. 

If you ever need more information about the word hoax or simply need a refresher, come back and read this article again!


  1. HOAX | Cambridge English Dictionary 
  2. The Perennial Pleasures of the Hoax | Penn State University Press 
  3. What type of word is ‘hoax’? Hoax can be a verb or a noun | Word Type