There's feint but I feel that doesn't quite have the same meaning (more for the physical). Disingenious(ness) is similar but again is different (more negative).

I'm looking for a word that describes an action and is neutral. Something like "He rolled his eyes but his smile betrayed it was a feint."

I'll accept feint as answer for now.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Hot Licks, David, NVZ, Phil Sweet, ab2 Sep 21 '17 at 3:28

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • What exact meaning are you looking for? Would pretender suffice? – Academiphile Sep 19 '17 at 19:20
  • The meaning of feigned... just as a noun. So I could say something like "but he knew it was a <noun of feigned>". – Nimitz14 Sep 19 '17 at 19:27
  • How about ruse? – user888379 Sep 19 '17 at 19:29
  • @Nimitz14 Please update the question with how it would be used. Are you looking to describe a person who feigns or an action that feigns? Also, you mention disengeniousness is too negattive but you don't mention if you're looking for a positive noun, a neutral noun, or just a less negative noun. – Hank Sep 19 '17 at 20:07
up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Feigned" is a participle, a verb form used as an adjective, where the base verb is "feign". A verb does not necessarily have a corresponding noun, but in the case of "feign" the corresponding noun is indeed "feint", as you originally thought. (See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feint for clarity; their definition of "feint" is literally "something feigned", though as you note it's primarily a physical combat term.)

So while feint is the exact noun form of feigned, it sounds like you're looking for a synonym with a different set of connotations. Try "pretense" or "disguise", or update your question with the context you're using it in.

A sham:

something that is not what it purports to be; a spurious imitation; fraud or hoax. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/sham

Also, fabrication, counterfeit, fake.

Given the edits to the question

dissimulation
concealment of one's thoughts, feelings, or character; pretense. (Google)

He rolled his eyes, but his smile betrayed it was a dissimulation.

In the spirit of sham, I suggest facade (or façade):

Merriam-Webster:

    a false, superficial, or artificial appearance or effect
    • tried to preserve the façade of a happy marriage
US English by Oxford Dictionaries:
    An outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.
    ‘her flawless public facade masked private despair’
Collins English Dictionary:
    A facade is an outward appearance which is deliberately false and gives you a wrong impression about someone or something.
    They hid the troubles plaguing their marriage behind a facade of family togetherness.

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