pretense

noun pre·tense \ ˈprē-ˌten(t)s , pri-ˈten(t)s \
variants: or pretence
Updated on: 8 Dec 2017

Definition of pretense

1 : a claim made or implied; especially : one not supported by fact
2 a : 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

Examples of pretense in a Sentence

  1. We tried to keep up the pretense that everything was fine.

  2. Their indifference is merely pretense.

Recent Examples of pretense from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of pretense

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



PRETENSE Defined for English Language Learners

pretense

noun

Definition of pretense for English Language Learners

  • : 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

  • : a claim of having a particular quality, ability, condition, etc.


PRETENSE Defined for Kids

pretense

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

Definition of pretense for Students

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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