Would you be kind enough to tell me which one of the following choices fit the sentence bellow:

Scenario: let's suppose you are informing police about a workshop in which some forgers are making fake money there;

I'm sure; those guys are ........... money in that workshop.

a) forging

b) counterfeiting

c) fabricating

For me there is no nuance between these three verbs at all; so asking this question I hope I can realize the semantic nuance between these three verbs in usage.

  • Counterfeiting (creating fake money) implies the act of creating forgeries (invalid copies) or counterfeit money (illegal tender) all the while fabricating (making up) lies about the fact that you have done so, forging ahead (continuing to do so) with the task of fabricating (stacking, wrapping) pallets full of fake currency when you get away with it. Oct 25, 2018 at 16:14

3 Answers 3


The simplest distinction is between "fabricating" and the others. "Fabricate" in the sense of "manufacture" has no moral or ethical implications, although it can also be used in the sense of making things up and, by implication, lying. A statement which is a fabrication (a lie) would not be called a counterfeit or forged.

"Forge" and "counterfeit" are usually distinguishable

1) In the case of currency, "counterfeit" is the preferred term.

2) In the case of art or signatures, "forge" is used. Here, the personal involvement of the faker is emphasized.

2a) As an exception, a forged work of art is sometimes referred to as counterfeit, such as "a counterfeit Rembrandt". Here, the use emphasizes the work as such, with the exact identity of the forger/counterfeiter being less important.

3) Objects which are not produced to fool the purchaser as to the personal source of the object are generally referred to as counterfeit. An example would be "counterfeit Gucci handbags", since although house Gucci controls the design, no one supposes that Guccio Gucci himself makes any of the products sold.

Note that 3) explains 1). Currency is not produced by individual artists or even Uncle Sam. As such, its impersonal nature of production establishes "counterfeit" as the preferred term for a fake.


We can call a concocted story, a web of lies, a fabrication, or say that "He fabricated a story to explain his absence at the meeting." Fabrication is there used figuratively, for it usually means to manufacture a tangible thing.

We forge a signature, document, or painting, that is, we reproduce it with the intention of having people mistake it as being authentic. The forged thing is called a forgery.

We counterfeit money or some other piece of paper that has exchange value, again with the same intention.

The verbs have narrower uses than their related nouns. A painting might be called a counterfeit Rembrandt and someone might say "this signature is counterfeit" yet we wouldn't be likely to say "he counterfeited a Rembrandt" or "he counterfeited a signature".

  • Nice! It made me to ask you another related question! If I get you right, according to what you mentioned, the following two sentences should be correct: --- "This is a counterfeited / forged bill" --- where the 'counterfeit' is the preferred and more specific verb and --- "This sounds fishy; I guess this is a forged signature" --- Do you confirm @TRomano?
    – A-friend
    Jan 16, 2016 at 19:29
  • Also, the word "counterfeit" is unambigously pointing at something illicit/deceptive, while "forge" only has that secondary meaning with certain objects; a forged iron pan is perfectly genuine cookware unless somebody put an unauthorized manufacturer logo on it (and depending on how they put it on, it might be a forged logo in both meanings...) Jan 16, 2016 at 21:55

A) or B) are correct. However, B) is more specific for currency. Any document (or piece of information) can be forged.

C) is a general term for production, both legitimate and illegitimate ("You fabricated that story"), but it would be understood, in context, in the legal sense.

It would be unusual in a crime drama, for instance, to use a term other than counterfeiting.

Perhaps, "No officer, I have no idea what you're talking about. My equipment is specifically for the fabrication of Monopoly money. Believe you me, I have no desire to mess with the Secret Service!"

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