Intermediate+ Word of the Day: mock

mock (verb, noun, adjective) /mɑk/ LISTEN

To mock means ‘to make fun of someone’ or, more aggressively, ‘to attack someone by treating them with ridicule’ and also ‘to mimic or copy.’ Mock also means ‘to defy or challenge’ and ‘to deceive or disappoint.’ As a noun, a mock is an imitative or ridiculing speech or something fake, though it’s not used this way very often these days. As an adjective, mock refers to something fake or artificial.

Example sentences

  • Linda's friends gently mocked her shyness.
  • Jerry is sick of his boss mocking his ideas.
  • The cruel boy mocked his teacher's fashion sense.
  • The couple decided to mock tradition by getting married in jeans.
  • When the shipwrecked passengers saw land from their raft, but were unable to reach it because of the currents, it was as though the gods were mocking them with false hope.
  • That bag is mock leather.

Words often used with mock

mock up: make a model of something. Example: “The students have to mock up small-scale versions of their designs before starting work on the final product.” Similarly, the noun mock-up is a model, often full-size, for study, testing, or teaching.

mock exam (mostly UK): a practice exam (sometimes shortened to just mock). Example: “Students take their mock exams six months before the real thing, so they have time to work on any areas that need improvement.”

In pop culture

There is a show on UK TV called Mock the Week, in which panelists discuss events and people who have been in the news that week and make jokes about them. You can see a clip from the show here:

Additional information

There is a group of birds from the Mimidae family that are known as mockingbirds because of their habit of mimicking the calls and songs of other birds.

Did you know?

The mock turtle is a fictional animal created by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland. He took the name from a dish that was very popular in his time: mock turtle soup. This soup was a cheap imitation of green turtle soup, which was considered a delicacy. It used cheap ingredients (like brains, calf’s head and calf’s foot) to recreate the texture and flavor of the original.

In the US, a mock turtleneck is a shirt that covers the neck with a small amount of material. Steve Jobs was known for wearing this kind of shirt. A normal turtleneck is slightly different because the material is folded over at the neck. These shirts are called polo necks in the UK.

Other forms

mocker (noun), mockery (noun), mockingly (adverb)

Origin

Mock dates back to the early 15th century. The Middle English verb mokken, which meant ‘make fun of,’ as well as ‘trick, delude or make a fool of someone,’ and ‘treat someone with scorn.’ It comes from Middle French mocquer (deride or jeer) and replaced a different Old English verb that had the same meanings: bysmerian. Linguists are unsure where the Middle French mocquer came from. Some believe it came from a figurative use of the Vulgar Latin muccare (to blow your nose), while others believe it is related to the Middle Dutch mocken (to mumble) or the Middle Low German mucken (to grumble). The sense ‘to imitate’ is an expansion of ‘to make fun of,’ and appeared soon after the verb. The noun comes from the verb, and dates back to the early 15th century. The adjective comes from either the verb or the noun, and dates back to the late 15th century.

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