I visited some famous tourist hotspots in a country where I enjoyed some beautiful sceneries. However, once we were told some trees planted there were actually fake (the trees were carefully sculpted to appear natural), we felt betrayed by the __?

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    Artificiality?... – ermanen Sep 7 '14 at 15:27
  • The tree is trunky = the trunk of the tree. The trees are phoney = the phone of the trees, obviously. ;-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 7 '14 at 16:30
  • Perhaps I'm nit-picking a bit here (Then again, this seems to be an appropriate place for it). Shouldn't this question state that it's looking for an abstract noun? (And be tagged as such) – Niall Sep 7 '14 at 19:53
  • thesaurus.com/browse/phony – tar Sep 8 '14 at 6:52
  • I recommend artifice because it has a range of meanings that cumulatively capture the cleverness and fakery of the designers of the ersatz trees. From Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003): "artifice 1a: clever or artful skill: INGENUITY b: an ingenious device or expedient 2a: an artful stratagem: TRICK b: false or insincere behavior." You can feel betrayed by both the ingenuity and the trick. – Sven Yargs Feb 12 '15 at 3:53

11 Answers 11


I would feel betrayed by the deception.

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Fraud sounds like a good fit for your example of the fake trees. It matches one of the definitions from Merriam-Webster very well:

a copy of something that is meant to look like the real thing in order to trick people

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artificiality, artificialness, fakeness, imitation, bogusness, bogosity, falseness, ersatzness, dumminess,...

Look up synonyms for bogus, and then adapt to get nouns...

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Sham fits the requirement pretty well.

From Google search:



  1. a thing that is not what it is purported to be.

"the proposed legislation is a farce and a sham"

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"fake" could also be used as a noun and thus "fakes".

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fake

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  • This doesn't quite work for me. It's not the fake trees that are offensive, per se, but rather the attitude of the person that decided to use them. – David Richerby Sep 8 '14 at 8:29

Ersatz is useful in this context. From en.wiktionary, ersatz means “Made in imitation; artificial, especially of an inferior quality”. Eg, “We felt betrayed because the palm trees were ersatz”.

Synonyms include artificial, faux, imitation, knock off.

Edit: Ersatz is of course an adjective rather than a noun. In terms of nouns, previously-suggested deception perhaps has the best fit in the example sentence, “We felt betrayed by the ____”. Terms like sham and bogosity have more-negative connotations than are warranted, because the question clearly says “the trees were carefully sculpted to appear natural”. The problem is not the appearance of the fake trees, but rather the engendered feeling that a confidence trick has been played. Knowing a deception's been made makes the scenery less believable. One might then fill in the blank with unbelievability, or perhaps with a longer phrase like “the incongruity or shabbiness or unreality of trying to improve on nature”.

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    Interesting. In its German origin, "Ersatz" basically just means replacement. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's inferior. Looks like it was adopted into English with a more narrow definition. – Reto Koradi Sep 7 '14 at 20:04
  • But this is still an adjective, not a noun. You can't say "we bought an ersatz". Or, if you do say that, I say "An ersatz what?" – GreenAsJade Sep 8 '14 at 3:43
  • The Wiktionary page you linked also lists it as a noun: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ersatz#Noun. – Reto Koradi Sep 8 '14 at 6:35
  • Interesting to note: in German Ersatz is only a noun and can't be used as an adjective (although there are compound adjectives like ersatzlos = 'without substitution' or ersatzweise = 'as a substitute'). – S22h Sep 8 '14 at 11:40

I would suggest going with something more than a single word. Perhaps something more along the lines of "We felt betrayed by the subterfuge of using artificial trees instead of real and natural surroundings." Alternatively instead of subterfuge: fraud, deceit, dishonesty or deception.

Also, in regards to Reto Koradi's comment above in reply to jwpat's suggestion of 'ersatz'. When used in English, is it very common for the speaker/writer to intend to impress a sense of a lower quality substitute. And has long been used in this manner.

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  • I didn't mean to question jwpat's definition of "ersatz". I hope my comment didn't sound like I doubted it. In fact I confirmed it with a different dictionary. I just thought it was interesting that the word was adopted with a more restricted meaning. For example, in German, the word "Ersatzteil" means "spare part". If I buy a spare part for my car at a dealership, I expect it to be absolutely identical to the original part that my car came with. – Reto Koradi Sep 8 '14 at 2:37
  • Extending it out to a full sentence is unnecessarily redundant. You're effectively advocating "However, once we were told some trees planted there were actually fake (the trees were carefully sculpted to appear natural), we felt betrayed by the subterfuge of using artificial trees instead of real and natural surroundings." There's no need to describe the subterfuge twice. – David Richerby Sep 8 '14 at 8:25
  • Also, "fraud" is more appropriate than "fraudulence". "Fraudulence" is the tendency to commit fraud or the result of the fraud; here, we're talking about the fraud itself. – David Richerby Sep 8 '14 at 8:26

The specific quality by which you feel betrayed here, I think, is lack of authenticity. If you want a single word, then the slightly-clunky inauthenticity would work.

Especially when traveling, it seems like we're all in search of a truly "authentic" local experience, and this is exactly what's lacking at overdone tourist hotspots.

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However, once we were told some trees planted there were actually fake , we felt betrayed by the scam (or hoax).

A scam is a devious scheme set up in order to cheat people, usually out of money. In this context it fits because the OP was part of a group of paying tourists. As a tourist one hopes to witness first hand the natural (and possibly unspoilt) splendours of a country. The tourist is but a client who pays a fee to the tourist agency, tourist guide/tour guide etc. and in exchange expects not to be lied to. This fee includes visiting the area's natural and authentic scenery.

Once established that some of the trees are fake, one could also call the setup, a hoax, which Merriam_Webster defines as, an act that is meant to trick or deceive people.

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Simulacrum? Might not carry the 'disappointment' that you were looking for though....


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Faux palm trees can be especially disturbing when you tap them and hear a metallic ringing rather than a woody thud.

From Oxford dictionary:

Made in imitation; artificial:

Not genuine; fake or false

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    The word itself is a good fit, but the asker was looking for a noun, and faux suffers from the same drawback as phoney in that fauxness is quite inelegant as nouns go. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 7 '14 at 18:32

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