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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.

  • 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
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"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.

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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.

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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.

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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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