1

I've come across he shams sick

Can I say he shams an idiot or he shams pain in his back ? Do I have to use a person or a thing after sham?

I know it's a rare word but nevertheless

3

You should be able to substitute the verb feigns for any transitive use of shams.

So He shams idiocy. rather than He shams an idiot.

IMO, He shams sick would be better as He shams illness because sick is not an appropriate object.

  • I don't know whether it works that way. Do you have any evidence supporting your answer? This Google Ngram shows that "shamming sick" is used around as often as "shamming sickness", while "feigning sick" is quite rare compared with "feigning sickness". You can also check that "shamming stupid" is used, but "feigning stupid" is rare compared with "feigning stupidity". – Peter Shor Aug 4 '13 at 13:11

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