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

Cisneros arranged, under false pretenses, for Customs and Border Protection to give Garcia back his passport and then helped him reenter the country. Los Angeles Times, "Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca implicated in fraud scheme, court documents allege," 28 Aug. 2019 Donald Trump’s great gift to us is the stripping away of the pretense and cant that has long surrounded the gun control debate specifically and the culture war more broadly. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "Gun Culture Has Always Been About White Supremacy," 4 Aug. 2019 In such a sprawling, diverse nation as ours, with such a long and troubled history on issues of race, a certain amount of pretense is necessary. Eugene Robinson, The Mercury News, "Robinson: The 2020 election is a fight for the soul of our nation," 23 July 2019 Despite the conspicuous presence of a tour publicist who took the unusual step of taping the conversation, Linda, 48, spoke with unmistakable warmth, candor and a refreshing lack of pretense or affectation. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: Revisit our 1989 Linda McCartney interview: ‘I do what I want to do.’," 21 June 2019 One of the ways in which the scandals around President Trump have come to resemble a mob movie, other than the nature of the crimes themselves, is that nobody involved is putting up much of a pretense that Trump is innocent. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Lawyer Forgets to Pretend He’s Innocent, Also Compares Him to Mobster," 18 Apr. 2018 Ogg said that because two people died while Goines was allegedly committing a felony -- tampering with a government record by obtaining one under false pretenses -- he was charged with two counts of felony murder in the deaths. Hollie Silverman, CNN, "Former Houston officer accused of lying faces murder charges after botched raid," 23 Aug. 2019 James O’Keefe, an activist who likes to capture videos under false pretenses to embarrass liberals and journalists, filmed the scene. Katie Rogers, New York Times, "White House Hosts Conservative Internet Activists at a ‘Social Media Summit’," 11 July 2019 No Harvard coaches were charged in that scheme, nor were any parents accused of securing admission to the school under false pretenses, though one allegedly tried. Melissa Korn, WSJ, "Harvard Dismisses Fencing Coach Over Conflict-of-Interest Violation," 9 July 2019

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

20 Sep 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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