A UNIX program that does nothing, and fails miserably at it. From the man page for GNU false:

false - do nothing, unsuccessfully.

false [ignored command line arguments]

The command would typically be used in shell scripts as a place holder where an unsuccessful command is needed. It may also be used safely as a dummy shell for disabling accounts. The complementary command is GNU true.

By convention, mostly because of the *n?x program test, and the && and || shell operators, a shell script is supposed to regard a program as having "succeeded" if and only if it sets an exit status code of 0. Thus, any program that sets a nonzero exit status code is regarded to have 'failed'. Occasionally it becomes necessary to set the status code to something other than 0 without doing anything else. To this end, the operating system has a program, called false. There is an analogous program, true, that sets an exit status code of 0. To save time, true and false are sometimes built into the shell itself.

Here is the C source code for false:

int main ()
 return 1; /* alternatively, call exit (1) */

false is also a keyword of Pascal, providing a Pascal analogue to the Boolean concept of falsehood. A boolean-type expression has a value of false if the corresponding predicate is also false.

C programmers, of course, have no time for a boolean type; but after it was proven1 that it was impossible to design a C++ class with all of the semantic nuances required of a boolean type, the C++ standardization committee added a boolean type (bool) with false as a keyword.

1Scott Meyers provided a very good demonstration of this in C/C++ Users Journal a few years before the ISO C++ Standard was released.

False (?), a. [Compar. Falser (?); superl. Falsest.] [L. falsus, p.p. of fallere to deceive; cf. OF. faus, fals, F. faux, and AS. fals fraud. See Fail, Fall.]


Uttering falsehood; unveracious; given to deceit; dishnest; as, a false witness.


Not faithful or loyal, as to obligations, allegiance, vows, etc.; untrue; treacherous; perfidious; as, a false friend, lover, or subject; false to promises.

I to myself was false, ere thou to me. Milton.


Not according with truth or reality; not true; fitted or likely to deceive or disappoint; as, a false statement.


Not genuine or real; assumed or designed to deceive; counterfeit; hypocritical; as, false tears; false modesty; false colors; false jewelry.

False face must hide what the false heart doth know. Shak.


Not well founded; not firm or trustworthy; erroneous; as, a false claim; a false conclusion; a false construction in grammar.

Whose false foundation waves have swept away. Spenser.


Not essential or permanent, as parts of a structure which are temporary or supplemental.

7. Mus.

Not in tune.

False arch Arch., a member having the appearance of an arch, though not of arch construction. -- False attic, an architectural erection above the main cornice, concealing a roof, but not having windows or inclosing rooms. -- False bearing, any bearing which is not directly upon a vertical support; thus, the weight carried by a corbel has a false bearing. -- False cadence, an imperfect or interrupted cadence. -- False conception Med., an abnormal conception in which a mole, or misshapen fleshy mass, is produced instead of a properly organized fetus. -- False croup Med., a spasmodic affection of the larynx attended with the symptoms of membranous croup, but unassociated with the deposit of a fibrinous membrane. -- False door ∨ window Arch., the representation of a door or window, inserted to complete a series of doors or windows or to give symmetry. -- False fire, a combustible carried by vessels of war, chiefly for signaling, but sometimes burned for the purpose of deceiving an enemy; also, a light on shore for decoying a vessel to destruction. -- False galena. See Blende. -- False imprisonment Law, the arrest and imprisonment of a person without warrant or cause, or contrary to law; or the unlawful detaining of a person in custody. -- False keel Naut., the timber below the main keel, used to serve both as a protection and to increase the shio's lateral resistance. -- False key, a picklock. -- False leg. Zool. See Proleg. -- False membrane Med., the fibrinous deposit formed in croup and diphtheria, and resembling in appearance an animal membrane. -- False papers Naut., documents carried by a ship giving false representations respecting her cargo, destination, ect., for the purpose of deceiving. -- False passage Surg., an unnatural passage leading off from a natural canal, such as the urethra, and produced usually by the unskillful introduction of instruments. -- False personation Law, the intentional false assumption of the name and personality of another. -- False pretenses Law, false representations concerning past or present facts and events, for the purpose of defrauding another. -- False rail Naut., a thin piece of timber placed on top of the head rail to strengthen it. -- False relation Mus., a progression in harmony, in which a certain note in a chord appears in the next chord prefixed by a flat or sharp. -- False return Law, an untrue return made to a process by the officer to whom it was delivered for execution. -- False ribs Anat., the asternal rebs, of which there are five pairs in man. -- False roof Arch., the space between the upper ceiling and the roof. Oxford Gloss. -- False token, a false mark or other symbol, used for fraudulent purposes. -- False scorpion Zool., any arachnid of the genus Chelifer. See Book scorpion. -- False tack Naut., a coming up into the wind and filling away again on the same tack. -- False vampire Zool., the Vampyrus spectrum of South America, formerly erroneously supposed to have blood-sucking habits; -- called also vampire, and ghost vampire. The genuine blood-sucking bats belong to the genera Desmodus and Diphylla. See Vampire. -- False window. Arch. See False door, above. -- False wing. Zool. See Alula, and Bastard wing, under Bastard. -- False works Civil Engin., construction works to facilitate the erection of the main work, as scaffolding, bridge centering, etc.


© Webster 1913.

False, adv.

Not truly; not honestly; falsely.

"You play me false."



© Webster 1913.

False, v. t. [L. falsare to falsify, fr. falsus: cf. F. fausser. See False, a.]


To report falsely; to falsify.




To betray; to falsify.


[He] hath his truthe falsed in this wise. Chaucer.


To mislead by want of truth; to deceive.


In his falsed fancy. Spenser.


To feign; to pretend to make.

[Obs.] "And falsed oft his blows."



© Webster 1913.

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