pre·​text | \ ˈprē-ˌtekst How to pronounce pretext (audio) \

Definition of pretext

: a purpose or motive alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs

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Choose the Right Synonym for pretext

apology, apologia, excuse, plea, pretext, alibi mean matter offered in explanation or defense. apology usually applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault and with or without reference to mitigating or extenuating circumstances. said by way of apology that he would have met them if he could apologia implies not admission of guilt or regret but a desire to make clear the grounds for some course, belief, or position. his speech was an apologia for his foreign policy excuse implies an intent to avoid or remove blame or censure. used illness as an excuse for missing the meeting plea stresses argument or appeal for understanding or sympathy or mercy. her usual plea that she was nearsighted pretext suggests subterfuge and the offering of false reasons or motives in excuse or explanation. used any pretext to get out of work alibi implies a desire to shift blame or evade punishment and imputes mere plausibility to the explanation. his alibi failed to stand scrutiny

Examples of pretext in a Sentence

She went back to her friend's house on the pretext that she had forgotten her purse.

Recent Examples on the Web

Swedish-style laws are often used as a pretext to crack down on migrants, says Niina Vuolajarvi, a sociologist at Rutgers University. The Economist, "The idea of criminalising prostitutes’ clients is spreading," 15 June 2019 The official grounds have been violation of immigration regulations and other bureaucratic pretexts. Annika Hernroth-rothstein, National Review, "I Was Kidnapped in Venezuela," 7 June 2019 That left Moore, whose nomination collapsed after the revelation of a long series of misogynistic writings offered a plausible pretext for Senate Republicans to spike him. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Judy Shelton’s potential nomination to a Federal Reserve Board seat, explained," 5 June 2019 To the east lies the Reichstag building, hollowed out by fire in 1933 in an act of arson the Nazis used as a pretext to cement Adolf Hitler’s hold on power. Alan Crawford,, "As Merkel’s Power Drains, the Threat to Europe Grows," 27 June 2018 Opposition rallies were broken up while voters in antigovernment areas were disenfranchised under flimsy pretexts. Adam O’neal, WSJ, "The Almost-Democratic Republic of Congo," 10 Jan. 2019 Another irony is that Mr. Trump has denounced China for using national security as a pretext to promote domestic industries like semiconductors. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Trump’s Steel Destruction," 31 May 2018 Ryabkov claimed that the U.S. has long intended to abandon the INF Treaty and is making a false allegation about 9M729 to give it a pretext for leaving. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia Defends New Cruise Missile, Says It Doesn't Violate Any Arms-Control Treaties," 24 Jan. 2019 The apparent goal of the memo is to undermine Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which could give Trump a pretext to fire him—and thus imperil Mueller’s investigation, which Rosenstein oversees. Matt Ford, New Republic, "Trump Warned America About His Abuse of Power," 30 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pretext.' 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 pretext

circa 1538, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pretext

Latin praetextus, from praetexere to assign as a pretext, screen, extend in front, from prae- + texere to weave — more at technical

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Statistics for pretext

Last Updated

25 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for pretext

The first known use of pretext was circa 1538

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More Definitions for pretext



English Language Learners Definition of pretext

: a reason that you give to hide your real reason for doing something

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More from Merriam-Webster on pretext

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pretext

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pretext

Spanish Central: Translation of pretext

Nglish: Translation of pretext for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretext for Arabic Speakers

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What made you want to look up pretext? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

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