person who falsifies their identity, history, or personal characteristics with intent to deceive
An impostor (also spelled imposter) is a person who pretends to be somebody else, often through means of disguise.
- Indeed, right is with us and in us, and there is no one else who says this but that he is a liar and an impostor.
- Muhammad al-Mahdi, Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.53, p. 191
- Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an impostor.
- Emil Cioran, A Short History of Decay (1949), French title: Précis de décomposition.
- Out, you impostors!
Quack-salving, cheating mountebanks! Your skill
Is to make sound men sick, and sick men kill.
- Philip Massinger, Virgin Martyr (1622), Act IV, scene i.
- Impostor; do not charge most innocent Nature,
As if she would her children should be riotous
- John Milton, Comus (1637), line 762.
- The first man who, having enclosed a piece of land, thought of saying ‘This is mine’ and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. How many crimes, wars, murders; how much misery and horror the human race would have been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes and filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: ‘Beware of listening to this impostor. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone and the earth itself belongs to no one!”
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, M. Cranston trans., p. 109
- To some extent, of course, we are all impostors. We play roles on the stage of life, presenting a public self that differs from the private self we share with intimates and morphing both selves as circumstances demand. Displaying a facade is part and parcel of the human condition. Indeed, one reason the feeling of being an impostor is so widespread is that society places enormous pressure on people to stifle their real selves.
- Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, The Dangers of Feeling Like a Fake, in: Harvard Business Review, September 2005; Similar quote in De Vries (2011; 16)