Well actually I'm searching for the right word for a particular scenario or maybe behavior.

Suppose I go to a shop and ask for an item but they don't have it. Now the sales person's priority is to make a sale and he impersonates (I know it's not the right word) another item and tells me it's what I'm looking for.

What word do I use in place of impersonation?

  • 1
    how 'bout "substitutes"? – Jim Aug 25 '14 at 6:06
  • You mean he 'suggests' another item? – user66974 Aug 25 '14 at 6:08
  • @Josh61 not suggests but tries to make me buy another stuff saying it's better although it may not be ... – iJade Aug 25 '14 at 6:08
  • The word most people would use here is very probably 'suggests'; 'offers [me]' probably comes second. Have you a different example which works better (when 'substitutes', as Jim suggests, might well work? – Edwin Ashworth Aug 25 '14 at 6:09
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth well it's more in a negative sense what I'm looking for. Suggest seem quite positive – iJade Aug 25 '14 at 6:09

Apparently, you're happy with a multi-word verb.

The MWV 'fob off', which is transitive (compulsorily separable with pronouns: fob us off) can take a with- (prepositional) phrase, is perhaps the best choice; I'd say it's informal rather than slang:

The sense is spelled out at Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010

.2. fob off

a. to induce someone to take (something inferior)

I asked for 'Bogdan', but he tried to fob me off with 'Sergei'.

  • 'fob' deliveries this feeling of the sales person trying to deceive, cheat. I definitely need to keep that in mind next time not to use that word on some kind-hearted recommendations. – B.Mr.W. Aug 19 '17 at 16:06

Ummm... I don't think any English words will fit in this situation. I recommend to use "suggest"and describe more in details if you would like to elaborate it.

There is a jargon-"bait-and-switch". However, it is a noun and not exactly what you want.

I think @EdwinAshworth's word choice is excellent!

  • I agree that @EdwinAshworth choice is perfect – iJade Aug 25 '14 at 6:37

"Impersonate" is definitely not the word you want, as "impersonate" suggests that a different object is trying to be the one the customer is looking for. Jim's "substitute", and Josh61's "suggests" are both good choices, but in the example you cite, I'd personally use "recommends".


Aside from suggest, the salesperson may be trying to market the substitute item...?

to do things that cause people to know about and want to buy (something)

(From Merriam)

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