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 Many liberal and conservative legal experts alike say the practice is a form of government overreach and a means to go after immigrants under a legally flawed pretext. Andrea Castillo, Los Angeles Times, 17 Sep. 2021 All of these scenes — not just the white ones — were in some sense cross-cultural for Kincaid, and the pretext of journalism lubricated her passage through them. New York Times, 15 Sep. 2021 Racheal Cooper was accused of taking Suzen Cooper to where she was killed on the pretext of giving her a ride to exchange hydrocodone pills for methamphetamine. Dale Ellis, Arkansas Online, 7 Sep. 2021 This time around, on the pretext of finding a replacement for his beloved vintage Escort car, the Grump heads off to Germany where his estranged elder brother Tarmo is based. Annika Pham, Variety, 27 Aug. 2021 Marines invaded the Black Republic in 1915, on the pretext of restoring order after a presidential assassination. Jonathan M. Katz, The New Republic, 20 Aug. 2021 Netanyahu had repeatedly claimed Abbas was not a reliable partner for negotiating a peace deal, a portrayal dismissed by Netanyahu critics as a pretext for avoiding making concessions. NBC News, 30 Aug. 2021 In his case: when European explorers began establishing Catholic missions and subduing the Indigenous people under the pretext of religious and national domination. San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Aug. 2021 Here, Franklin’s life is merely the pretext for a #MeToo-era tract. Armond White, National Review, 11 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for pretext

Time Traveler

The first known use of pretext was circa 1538

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Last Updated

19 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pretext.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of pretext

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


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