as in justification
a false ground that you give to hide why you are really doing something The leaders used a minor clash at the border as a pretext for war.

Synonyms & Similar Words


Synonym Chooser

How does the noun pretext contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of pretext are alibi, apologia, apology, excuse, and plea. While all these words mean "matter offered in explanation or defense," pretext suggests subterfuge and the offering of false reasons or motives in excuse or explanation.

used any pretext to get out of work

Where would alibi be a reasonable alternative to pretext?

The synonyms alibi and pretext are sometimes interchangeable, but alibi implies a desire to shift blame or evade punishment and imputes mere plausibility to the explanation.

his alibi failed to stand scrutiny

When might apologia be a better fit than pretext?

While the synonyms apologia and pretext are close in meaning, 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

When is it sensible to use apology instead of pretext?

In some situations, the words apology and pretext are roughly equivalent. However, 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

In what contexts can excuse take the place of pretext?

The meanings of excuse and pretext largely overlap; however, excuse implies an intent to avoid or remove blame or censure.

used illness as an excuse for missing the meeting

When would plea be a good substitute for pretext?

The words plea and pretext are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, plea stresses argument or appeal for understanding or sympathy or mercy.

her usual plea that she was nearsighted

Thesaurus Entries Near pretext

Cite this Entry

“Pretext.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on pretext

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