Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Represented or appearing as such; ostensive.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Put forth or held out as real, actual, or intended; apparent; professed: as, a person's ostensible reason or motive for doing something.
  • Capable of being shown; that may be shown; proper or intended to be shown.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective rare Capable of being shown; proper or intended to be shown.
  • adjective Outwardly appearing to be; shown to be; exhibited; apparent; evident.
  • adjective Declared; avowed; professed; pretended; -- often used as opposed to real or actual.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective meant for open display; apparent
  • adjective alleged, having an intention that is possibly but not obviously true

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective appearing as such but not necessarily so
  • adjective represented or appearing as such; pretended

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French, from Medieval Latin ostēnsibilis, from Latin ostēnsus, past participle of ostendere, to show : ob-, ob- + tendere, to stretch; see ten- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French, from Latin ostensus, past participle of ostendō ("show"), itself from obs- ("in front of") (akin to ob- ("in the way") and to Greek ἐπί (epi, "on, at, besides, after") and Old English eofot ("crime")) + tendō ("stretch") (Greek τείνω (teinō))

Examples

  • And none of the hedge fund geniuses think to actually pick up the phone and call the ostensible issuer of the notes just to check and see that the notes are real and Dreier is authorized to peddle them.

    Ron Kuby: A "Dryer" Version of Madoff

  • They have exercised the right to determine from the circumstances whether the ostensible was the real destination.

    The New York Times Current History, A Monthly Magazine The European War, March 1915

  • Philip, at whose request he had come, had charged him by no means to divulge the secret, as the King was anxious to have it believed that the ostensible was the only business which the prelate had to perform in the country.

    The Rise of the Dutch Republic — Complete (1555-66)

  • Philip, at whose request he had come, had charged him by no means to divulge the secret, as the King was anxious to have it believed that the ostensible was the only business which the prelate had to perform in the country.

    The Rise of the Dutch Republic — Complete (1555-84)

  • Philip, at whose request he had come, had charged him by no means to divulge the secret, as the King was anxious to have it believed that the ostensible was the only business which the prelate had to perform in the country.

    PG Edition of Netherlands series — Complete

  • Philip, at whose request he had come, had charged him by no means to divulge the secret, as the King was anxious to have it believed that the ostensible was the only business which the prelate had to perform in the country.

    The Rise of the Dutch Republic — Volume 10: 1566, part I

  • "Truth is, the titular subject is entirely ostensible, which is both the film's charm and its greatest limitation," writes

    GreenCine Daily

  • I say, "ostensible," because, in fact, the paramilitaries have rarely fought guerrillas themselves, but rather, have targeted civilians struggling peacefully for social change - for example, trade unionists, peasant leaders, teachers and Catholic priests advocating for the poor.

    Dan Kovalik: Bush To Host Colombian Death Squad President

  • That alone would make it a collector's item, but it's particularly notable because the ostensible premise of Nabokov's best-known novel ( "ostensible" because Lolita is not simply about an older man's affair with a preteenage girl) caused a scandal that kept the book itself from finding an American publisher for nearly three more years.

    The Believer

  • That alone would make it a collector's item, but it's particularly notable because the ostensible premise of Nabokov's best-known novel ( "ostensible" because Lolita is not simply about an older man's affair with a preteenage girl) caused a scandal that kept the book itself from finding an American publisher for nearly three more years.

    The Believer

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