noun pre·text \ˈprē-ˌtekst\

: a reason that you give to hide your real reason for doing something

Full Definition of PRETEXT

:  a purpose or motive alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs

Examples of PRETEXT

  1. She went back to her friend's house on the pretext that she had forgotten her purse.

Origin of PRETEXT

Latin praetextus, from praetexere to assign as a pretext, screen, extend in front, from prae- + texere to weave — more at technical
First Known Use: 1513

Synonym Discussion of PRETEXT

apology, apologia, excuse, plea, pretext, alibi mean matter offered in explanation or defense. apology usually applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault and with or without reference to mitigating or extenuating circumstances <said by way of apology that he would have met them if he could>. apologia implies not admission of guilt or regret but a desire to make clear the grounds for some course, belief, or position <his speech was an apologia for his foreign policy>. excuse implies an intent to avoid or remove blame or censure <used illness as an excuse for missing the meeting>. plea stresses argument or appeal for understanding or sympathy or mercy <her usual plea that she was nearsighted>. pretext suggests subterfuge and the offering of false reasons or motives in excuse or explanation <used any pretext to get out of work>. alibi implies a desire to shift blame or evade punishment and imputes mere plausibility to the explanation <his alibi failed to stand scrutiny>.


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