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How to pronounce shill (audio)


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Dictionary definition of shill

A person who praises or promotes something because they secretly have a personal stake in it.
"The shill put fake reviews online to encourage others to buy from their products."

Detailed meaning of shill

A shill is a person who poses as a satisfied customer or a disinterested bystander in order to promote a product, service or a scheme, usually without disclosing their connection to the seller or organization. The term is most commonly associated with sales and marketing tactics. A shill is often used in situations where a salesperson or vendor is having difficulty convincing potential customers to buy a product or service, so they hire someone to pretend to be a customer and speak positively about the product or service. This is often done to create a sense of excitement or urgency around the product or service, or to overcome objections or skepticism from potential buyers. In some cases, shills may also be used in illegal activities such as fraud, gambling or even prostitution, to create an appearance of a legitimate enterprise or to attract customers. The term can also be used to describe anyone who promotes or supports something without disclosing their true motives or interests.

Example sentences containing shill

1. The radio host was later revealed to be a shill for the dietary supplement company.
2. He suspected the overly enthusiastic reviewer was a shill for the software company.
3. The event was full of shills trying to artificially inflate the value of the artwork.
4. She was uncomfortable realizing she had become a shill for the controversial tech startup.
5. Sometimes, influencers can act as shills, endorsing products they don't actually use or believe in.
6. The company used shills to boost their product's ratings online.

History and etymology of shill

The noun 'shill' has an etymology with roots in carnival and circus slang of the late 19th century. It is believed to have originated from the German word 'schillen,' which means 'to play a shell game.' In a shell game, a person (often a con artist) hides an object, such as a pea, under one of three shells or cups and then shuffles them around to confuse the audience. The 'shill' in this context was a person who pretended to be a disinterested observer but was actually working with the con artist, praising the game and encouraging others to bet. The term 'shill' eventually made its way into general use to describe someone who praises or promotes something because they secretly have a personal stake in it, often with the intent to deceive or manipulate others. The etymology of 'shill' highlights its historical association with deception and manipulation, emphasizing the role of someone who appears to be impartial but is, in fact, part of a scheme to promote a particular agenda.

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Further usage examples of shill

1. Some politicians are merely shills for corporate interests, rather than representatives of their constituents.
2. The auctioneer used a shill to drive up the bids on the antique vase.
3. The enthusiastic member of the crowd was actually a shill, paid to start the applause.
4. Online forums are often plagued by shills promoting their own products or services.
5. He discovered his favorite YouTuber was just a shill for a big gaming company.
6. The supposed independent consultant was actually a shill for a rival firm.
7. Some people felt betrayed when they found out their favorite blogger was a shill for a skincare brand.
8. The celebrity turned out to be a shill, promoting the "miracle" diet for financial gain.
9. She felt used after realizing she had been employed as a shill to promote the company's image.
10. He was a shill for the pharmaceutical industry, peddling their drugs on television shows.
11. The over-the-top praise made her suspect that the critic might be a shill.
12. They planted a shill in the audience to ask predetermined questions.
13. The shill's overly enthusiastic endorsement raised suspicions about the product's authenticity.
14. The company's unethical use of shills led to a backlash from its customers.



promoter, critic, detractor, opponent


SAT 3 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Deceit and Pretense, Deception and Trickery

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