Fake It Till You Make It – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you seen the saying 'fake it till you make it' somewhere online or in a text and would like to know more about the phrase? It's a common saying that is often used in the context of careers or social situations, where standing or image counts. This post unpacks its meaning, origin, and common use.


'Fake it till you make it' is a common figurative saying in the English language.

When it gets used, the phrase is usually used to mean that someone has to pretend to be good at something before they will have the necessary experience to match.

While the original use of the phrase 'fake it till you make it' was for performers in various branches of show business, the phrase has been adapted over time to apply to several situations, sometimes related to personal or career situations.

The phrase is usually said as a form of encouragement, with humorous implications that lighten the mood or tone of what is being said.

The saying can be used as a statement or as a response, though the saying is also less common as a question.

Example Usage

“Fake it till you make it, girlfriend! You just go to work tomorrow and walk in like you've read everything there was on how to do your job. You could always just read the manual next week.”

“If you don't fake it till you make it, you're going to be here selling sandwiches in a banana suit forever instead of working your way up to be a CEO or something.”

“Fake it till you make it. Pretend you're the owner of a large company and hope they don't walk into you at the pizza store.”

“You'll just have to fake it till you make it and pretend that you're the best at making cupcakes.”


According to language resources, the phrase 'fake it till you make it' is a later phrase that might have only come into being somewhere in the 21st century.

The most common origin that is given for the phrase is Simon & Garfunkel, within the song 'Fakin' It' released in the early 70s.

While variations might have appeared slightly before this time, the accepted most likely use that made it popular is found in the song.

It is possible that the saying might have been common within show business at the time, though was used formally by the band when writing the song.

Modern use of the phrase would continue, and it would become somewhat of a catchphrase that foregoes thoughts of the origin.

Phrases Similar to Fake It Till You Make It

  • Keep a brave face

Phrases Opposite to Fake It Till You Make It

  • N/a

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Fake it till you make it

Ways People May Say Fake It Till You Make It Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone can use the phrase 'fake it till you make it' in the wrong way, or misunderstand the meaning of the saying when it is used by another person.

Since the phrase originated in English, the meaning is not always easy to carry over with a direct translation.

Someone might also not understand the context of what 'it' is in the discussion.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Fake It Till You Make It

There are several acceptable ways to use the phrase 'fake it till you make it' in conversation, including to use the saying as a statement or response – and usually in both cases, as a form of encouragement from one person to another.

Someone who says the phrase 'fake it till you make it' usually says it to encourage or reassure the person to whom they are saying it.

While the phrase originally had implications for show business and performance, this is not always the case with modern use.

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