pretense

noun
pre·​tense | \ ˈprē-ˌten(t)s How to pronounce pretense (audio) , pri-ˈten(t)s \
variants: or pretence

Definition of pretense

1 : a claim made or implied especially : one not supported by fact
2a : mere ostentation : pretentiousness confuse dignity with pomposity and pretense— Bennett Cerf
b : a pretentious act or assertion
3 : an inadequate or insincere attempt to attain a certain condition or quality
4 : professed rather than real intention or purpose : pretext was there under false pretenses
6 : false show : simulation saw through his pretense of indifference

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Examples of pretense in a Sentence

We tried to keep up the pretense that everything was fine. Their indifference is merely pretense.
Recent Examples on the Web Print and electronic media have joined in lockstep to the Black Lives Matter agenda and abandoned all pretense of serious reporting to become advocates instead of journalists. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: The Legislature, 'losers' and 'suckers' comments, better journalism, COVID-19, the State Fair," 9 Sep. 2020 McCullough did so under a similar pretense while also seeing an opportunity to return home where most of his family still lives. Stephen Means, cleveland, "C.J. Hicks and Dasan McCullough are developing a friendship while building Ohio State football’s 2022 class: Buckeyes Recruiting Roundup," 28 Aug. 2020 The media pretense that Kamala Harris represents black womanhood is as specious as Megan and Cardi B’s tribute to whoredom. Armond White, National Review, "Megan, Cardi, and Kamala Make Bad History," 14 Aug. 2020 This is in no way just a pretense to keep Broncos on your mind until Ford can finally get around to building them. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Ford Shows 4 Bronco Adventure Concepts for the SUV's Birthday," 13 Aug. 2020 Working the floor, connecting with staff and customers directly and without pretense, and willing to do every task in the store if needed. David Gutowski, Longreads, "Sleeping with Amazon," 10 Aug. 2020 Working the floor, connecting with staff and customers directly and without pretense, and willing to do every task in the store if needed. David Gutowski, Longreads, "Sleeping with Amazon," 10 Aug. 2020 Its schedule already compressed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, outbreaks among the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals have forced MLB to give up all pretense that this season is equivalent to any other. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: COVID-19 forcing sports into sacrificing integrity of the game," 4 Aug. 2020 But some critics were put off by its pretense and air of detachment. Mark Kennedy, Star Tribune, "Nomination surprises: 'The Mandalorian,' Quibi get Emmy love," 28 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pretense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pretense

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pretense

Middle English, probably modification of Medieval Latin pretensio, irregular from Latin praetendere

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Time Traveler for pretense

Time Traveler

The first known use of pretense was in the 15th century

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Statistics for pretense

Last Updated

19 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pretense.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretense. Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for pretense

pretense

noun
How to pronounce pretense (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pretense

: a false reason or explanation that is used to hide the real purpose of something
: an act or appearance that looks real but is false
formal : a claim of having a particular quality, ability, condition, etc.

pretense

noun
pre·​tense
variants: or pretence \ ˈprē-​ˌtens , pri-​ˈtens \

Kids Definition of pretense

1 : an act or appearance that looks real but is false He made a pretense of studying.
2 : an effort to reach a certain condition or quality His report makes no pretense at completeness.

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Comments on pretense

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