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 This isn’t the first time the state has cut off internet access under the pretext of exams. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 27 Sep. 2021 San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju is suing San Francisco Superior Court, alleging that hundreds of people are illegally being denied speedy trials and are languishing in jail for months under the pretext of COVID restrictions. Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Sep. 2021 Walker began his 90-page ruling by noting other instances in Florida when people were arrested for challenging Jim Crow laws under the pretext of a riot. NBC News, 10 Sep. 2021 In fact, parliaments themselves have often been suspended under the pretext of preventing infections. Gideon Rozner, National Review, 7 Sep. 2021 The two had been lured there under the pretext of Radway selling about $550 worth of marijuana, according to trial testimony. Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2021 Ventura believes that the protests on February 13th were an effort by the left to bash the Prime Minister under the pretext of feminism. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 12 Aug. 2021 Critics say such pretext stops unfairly target people of color. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Aug. 2021 The killing ignited a week of sustained protests outside the police station and a backlash against minor traffic stops — or pretext stops — that disproportionately affect drivers of color. Andy Mannix, Star Tribune, 15 May 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

13 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pretext.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 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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