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

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 Governments increasingly use the pretense that journalists are accomplices of foreign actors to justify imprisonments — often without providing due process or trial. Jason Rezaian, Washington Post, "2017 was the most dangerous year ever for journalists. 2018 might be even worse.," 1 Feb. 2018 Sinclair’s was paid in federal bonds without any legitimate pretense. Andrew Coan, WSJ, "Why Robert Mueller’s Predecessors Usually Didn’t Prevail," 25 Jan. 2019 Yet in this scene, there’s no pretense, no emotional barrier—just poignant relief. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Caitriona Balfe Is Evolving with Outlander," 31 Dec. 2018 At the same time, any pretense of Trump’s respecting the independence of the Justice Department has disintegrated. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Rule of Law Is Crumbling Further Each Day Under Trump," 10 June 2018 The end result of this undertaking is a decidedly feminine pied a terre, but one that can also effortlessly host large family gatherings without pretense. Steven Stolman, Town & Country, "Inside the Newly Renovated Home of a San Francisco Sophisticate," 19 Nov. 2018 Black and white musicians—male and female, old and young—stood shoulder to shoulder without pretense or any suggestion of cliques. Marc Myers, WSJ, "A Great Day in Harlem, Revisited," 2 Nov. 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

5 Apr 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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