I'm looking for a word for concealment of faults.

In this case, someone has a specific fault and actively, purposefully hides it from others, going out of their way to conceal these faults from others.

It's a close-opposite of hypocrisy or deceit, where one pretends to have a good quality that one does not possess. This would be a superimposition of a non-existent good quality, while the word I'm looking for would be the deprecation of an existent fault or negative quality.

Also, not a mere denial or non-acknowledgement of the fault, but an active secrecy or pretence.

Is dissimulation my best bet? That doesn't seem to necessarily include concealment of a fault, just concealment in general.

Examples: 1) Fearing what his parents might think, John pretended to be a non-smoker. When they asked him directly about it his words faltered, not wishing to lie but also not wishing to reveal his shortcoming. In the end, the best he could manage were a few unclear words denying the fact and, hoping his parents believed him, quickly changed the subject. 2) John thoroughly enjoyed hunting, but in the company of others, from fear of damaging his reputation, was scrupulous in concealing this and even went out of his way to appear outspoken against hunting.

The close-opposite (hypocrisy) would be: For fame and fortune, John pretended to be able to read others' minds and offered his services at a reasonable rate. To avoid being discovered as a fraud, he kept his readings vague and used intrigue to keep his clients hooked.

So I hope these help give a clearer idea of what I'm looking for. I am not so much looking for a word to slot into those sentences, but rather a word for what such an attitude or behaviour is called.

Many thanks for all the work!

  • 3
    Could you please illustrate the nuance that you are trying to achieve with an example? Please do so in your question. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 17:54
  • Also, when you edit the example into your post, please fix i'm to I’m and existent (as in existent fault) to extant. Also, I disapprove of writing ‘/’ when you mean or or and and suggest reserving ‘/’ for meaning and/or. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 18:07
  • Would you mind the phrase 'smoke and mirrors'? I have to agree with coleopterist. I say this because you don't seem too sure about what you're asking. I say that because the answers you received can go for different tones depending on how you plan on using them.
    – Souta
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 23:05
  • It is hypocritical to enjoy hunting whilst at the same time being outspoken against it. Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 12:40

8 Answers 8


whitewash (tr.v. To conceal or gloss over (wrongdoing, for example)) is the word I thought of, but there are lesser versions, where complete concealment is not required, such as glaze over

  • Doesn't that imply more of putting a positive twist to some quality, downplaying the downsides, making the problem seem unimportant, instead of hiding it?
    – SF.
    Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 12:38

Besides dissimulation (noun, “The act of concealing the truth; hypocrisy or deception”), consider masquerade as a noun, “Acting or living under false pretenses; concealment of something by a false or unreal show; pretentious show; disguise”, or as a verb, “To frolic or disport in disguise; to make a pretentious show of being what one is not [eg] He masqueraded as my friend until the truth finally came out”.

Note, dissimulation occurred to me before I saw it in your question; it is ok; however, the word I thought of before that was verb dissemble (“To disguise or conceal something; to feign”). A related word is sham, which as an adjective, noun, or verb has meanings like intended to deceive; false; fake; an imitation that purports to be genuine; to deceive, cheat, lie. Another is counterfeit, with similar meanings.

  • +1 But I'm not sure if any of them really nail the nuance that the OP is after. I was thinking of beguilement. But that appears to suffer from the same flaw. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 17:56

How about facade (meaning a deceptive outer appearance)


"fake" and "fraud" are nouns that fit; "defraud" for a verb. The latter has legal implications that I think are exactly what you are looking for -- someone who conceals faults for improper gain.


You could say this person is being artful. Artful has a meaning of "Skillful in accomplishing a purpose, especially by the use of cunning or craft." It has the connotation of being somewhat manipulative to achieve something, like a favorable impression. The noun form is artfulness.

Also, you are aware of the word pretension, right? (You use the word pretense in your post.) It might be exactly what you mean.


Obscure, in the transitive verb form, could be the word you're looking for:

  1. To make dim or indistinct
  2. To conceal in obscurity; hide

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

  • keep from being seen; conceal
  • make unclear and difficult to understand
  • overshadow

To rephrase your examples:

"John obscured his smoking by being unclear and then quickly changed the subject."

"By publicly speaking out against hunting, John obscured his fondess for it."


How about impostrous, disingenuous, beguiling, or duplicitous?

Another word that comes to mind is masquerader


Maybe cover up.


  • any action, stratagem, or other means of concealing or preventing investigation or exposure;
  • Concealment or attempted concealment of a mistake, crime, etc;
  • Anything designed to obfuscate the truth by replacement.

From Wikipedia: A cover-up is an attempt, whether successful or not, to conceal evidence of wrongdoing, error, incompetence or other embarrassing information. In a passive cover-up, information is simply not provided; in an active cover-up, deception is used.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.