AskDefine | Define dissimulation

Dictionary Definition

dissimulation n : the act of deceiving [syn: deception, deceit, dissembling]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The act of concealing the truth; hypocrisy or deception.
  2. Hiding ones feelings or purposes.

Extensive Definition

Dissimulation is a form of deception in which one conceals the truth. It differs from simulation, in which one exhibits false information. Dissimulation commonly takes the form of concealing one's ability in order to gain the element of surprise over an opponent.


  • In software development, dissimulation is the logical converse of simulation. In this context dissimulation is a worthwhile tool for protection against a differential attack, implemented by having semantically equivalent executions look different. This goal is to prevent automated tools from detecting and distinguishing any meaningful differences between such executions.
  • Dissimulation can be used as an effective form of amusement (see Candid Camera); it is also used in corporate environments for training and measurement activities (e.g. "mystery shoppers".)
  • Pool hustling might be seen as a form of dissimulation, because the hustler conceals their real talent. Yet it may also (or instead) be considered a form of simulation, because every pool hustle conveys false information about the hustler's abilities.

Ethical concerns

The practice of dissimulation raises ethical (and possibly moral) concerns, due to its use of deception as a means to an end. Examples of such consequences include entrapment, and the psychological abuse attributed to manipulation.
The perceived inherent dishonesty in the practice of [destructive] dissimulation allows it to be conflated with notion of lies. However, the dishonesty comes from the employment of half truths — which involves omission of facts essential for a full description or account. In such instances, the ethics of such conduct is considered questionable at best.

Various theological views

While it is acknowledged that dissimulation may have the appearance of impropriety, some religious scholars have articulated defenses for its use. An example of dissimulation in a religious context is Taqiyya where, in Shi'a Islam, dissimulation is permissible when a believer's life is in jeopardy due to their faith.
A Catholic viewpoint is outlined in "Dissimulation and hypocrisy", a subsection from the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Christians may point to the biblical reference in Romans 12:9a "Let love be without dissimulation.(KJV)"

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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