The general feinted an invasion by ordering a small group of elite soldiers to attack the western front while the bulk of the army marched on the North. When the defending general realized the deception, he fainted.

The words ‘faint’ and ‘feint’ are confusing words on many accounts. For starters, these words are homophones and hence, pronounced the same. ‘Faint’ and ‘feint’ are also orthographic neighbors, meaning they differ in their spelling by a single letter, rendering them susceptible to mistake while writing. To top it all, the etymological origins of the words ‘faint’ and ‘feint’ can be traced back to the French language. These French words happen to be orthographic neighbors and homophones as well.

The word ‘feint’ is derived from the French ‘feindre’. It is used as a noun and means feign, sham or make a pretense. Therefore, ‘feint’ refers to the state, quality, or action of feigning or stimulating a fake attack. ‘Faint’, on the other hand, is derived from French ‘faindre’, meaning feeble, frail, or lacking strength. Thus, ‘faint’ refers to the state, quality, or action of being weak or losing consciousness; for instance during a syncope. Both words under consideration can be used as multiple parts of speech.

Feint vs faint – definitions, uses and example sentences

Definition of feint

‘Feint’ is pronounced ‘faynt’. It can be variably used as a noun, verb, and adjective. As a noun, it refers to an offensive move or attack; for instance, in boxing or war that is deliberated as a dummy only to deceive or otherwise perplex the opponent. It also refers to an artificial pretense or appearance designed to gain the upper hand or take advantage. To qualify a noun, for instance, a ‘move’, ‘attack’, or ‘blow’ as a dummy or deceptive, feint is used before the noun. For instance, ‘a feint move or a feint blow’. The synonym of the word ‘feint’ is ‘stratagem’. As a verb, the act of simulating such a deceptive attack or appearance is called feinting. ‘Feint’ is ambitransitive as a verb, meaning it can make sense with or without an object. The past and past participle of feint are ‘feinted’ whereas the present participle of feint is ‘feinting’.

Example sentences of feint

  • By the time the kids realized that the teens pacing towards them with masks on was a feint, they had already fallen terrified.

In the first sentence, the word ‘feint’ is used as a noun to refer to the mock attack the teenagers were playing at the kids.

  • Muhammad Ali used to shuffle his legs rapidly back and forth as a feint move to startle the opponent before actually striking a blow.

In this sentence, the word ‘feint’ is used before the noun ‘move’ and functions as an adjective to qualify said ‘move’ as a move of deception or strategy lacking an actual attack but looking like one to the opponent.

  • Achilles feinted with his spear to startle his enemies and instill fear; the duel would soon be over once he had them tired and afraid.

Finally, here the word ‘feint’ is used as a verb. Note that the verb does not take an object; hence, here the verb is intransitive.

Definition of faint

Like ‘feint’, ‘faint’ is also pronounced ‘faynt’. Much like its homophone, faint can also be employed as a noun, verb, or adjective as per requirement. As a noun, faint refers to a sudden episode of unconsciousness, usually characterized by a fall. As an adjective, ‘faint’ means lacking energy or susceptible to losing consciousness. It can also be used for beings or actions lacking courage, valor, or things that are visually not very bright or clear. The verb form of faint refers to the act of losing consciousness or fainting. As a verb, ‘faint’ is intransitive, meaning it does not take an object in a sentence. Words synonymous with the noun and verb form of faint include ‘black out’, ‘swoon’, and ‘pass out’. The past and past participle of faint is ‘fainted’ whereas the present participle of faint is ‘fainting’.

Example sentences of faint

  • The medications that my doctor put me on lower the glucose in my blood which explains why I suffered a faint today.

In the first sentence, the word ‘faint’ is used as a noun to refer to the act of losing consciousness or a blackout. Said person experienced a syncope because of lowered glucose levels.

  • To grasp the faintest idea of what this symbolism says, we would have to carefully read the index, most of which has faded and is pretty faint.

Here, the word ‘faint’ is used twice as an adjective to refer to its multiple meanings. Firstly, the superlative form of ‘faint’ is used to qualify the noun ‘idea’, collectively meaning minimum understanding. Secondly, ‘faint’ is also used in the end to mean perceptually dim or unclear. The speaker of this sentence was trying to interpret complex symbology along with a group. He advised that they should first go through the index which had mostly faded.

  • As soon as the wildlife volunteers shot the injured rhinoceros with a powerful tranquilizer, it began darting unsteadily and fainted.

Finally, the past participle of ‘faint’ is used here to demonstrate the use of faint as a verb and refer to the meaning of undergoing syncope or losing consciousness.


The words ‘faint’ and ‘feint’ are homophones that differ in their spelling by a single vowel. This difference can be used as a mnemonic to memorize each word’s distinct meaning. The ‘fa-‘ in faint can be memorized for ‘fall’ to remember that it means to lose consciousness. The ‘-aint’, slang for ‘is not’, and can be remembered to mean ‘barely present or visible’ and weak. Subsequently, ‘feint’ can be remembered by the ‘e’ in it as ‘e’ is for enemy. An enemy would feint or launch a deceptive attack on you anytime it wanted. It is also noteworthy that the words have similar ancestral words. Finally, another important difference to remember is that the word ‘faint’ is always intransitive; so you cannot faint anything, you simply faint. On the contrary, ‘feint’ is ambitransitive so an object can be used when necessary, for instance, to simply feint the opponent (transitive) or to feint with a fork (intransitive). Be careful though, this topic is not for the faint of heart; it might feint you!