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

This Valentine's Day, why not give up all pretense and just lounge in a turban and some gam-erasing harem pants? Veronique Hyland, Harper's BAZAAR, "Man Repelling With Rachel Roy This Valentine's Day," 25 Jan. 2011 People will continue their negative stereotypes as long as the pretense of these families not existing or being more dysfunctional than traditional families is promoted. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, "Cheerios ad brings on the nuts," 1 June 2013 There’s no pretense of spontaneity here; the posing is deliberate and at times surreal. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "“It’s Called Ffasiwn” Is a Photography Exhibition That Challenges Assumptions About Status and Style," 25 Mar. 2019 There’s also no pretense here, just affordable mezcal and a few snacks. Scarlett Lindeman, Condé Nast Traveler, "20 Best Bars in Mexico City," 27 Feb. 2018 But when a dog is involved, all of the Queen's pretenses fade away. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth Once Let a Dog Carry Her Handbag," 1 Mar. 2019 Trump has abandoned even the pretense that words have value. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Why Liberal Media Need Conservative Columnists," 10 May 2018 There can be no doubt: This money-bail system—a blood-sucking beast that devours any pretense of justice—not only disrupts black lives but also renders black bodies disposable commodities. Kirsten West Savali, The Root, "The Hood Incubator: Oakland, Calif., Organization Empowers Black Communities to Take Ownership of Cannabis Industry," 22 Feb. 2018 Just as Wall Street has given up even the pretense of playing by the rules, just as politics has become a game of smearing your opponent, law is now a gladiatorial contest. James Atlas, Town & Country, "The Year of the Celebrity Super Lawyer," 3 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for pretense

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for pretense

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

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More Definitions for pretense

pretense

noun

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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More from Merriam-Webster on pretense

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pretense

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pretense

Spanish Central: Translation of pretense

Nglish: Translation of pretense for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretense for Arabic Speakers

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