Definitions

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

  • n. An ostensible or professed purpose; an excuse.
  • n. An effort or strategy intended to conceal something.
  • transitive v. To allege as an excuse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A false, contrived or assumed purpose; a pretense.
  • v. To employ a pretext, which involves using a false or contrived purpose for soliciting the gain of something else.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Ostensible reason or motive assigned or assumed as a color or cover for the real reason or motive; pretense; disguise.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That which is assumed as a cloak or means of concealment; something under cover of which a true purpose is hidden; an ostensible reason, motive, or occasion; a pretense.
  • n. Synonyms Pretension, etc. See pretense.
  • To use as a pretext, or cloak or covering; assume as a means of concealment.

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

  • n. an artful or simulated semblance
  • n. something serving to conceal plans; a fictitious reason that is concocted in order to conceal the real reason

Etymologies

Latin praetextum, from neuter past participle of praetexere, to disguise : prae-, pre- + texere, to weave.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French prétexte, from Latin praetextum ("an ornament, etc., wrought in front, a pretense"), neuter of praetextus, past participle of praetexere ("to weave before, fringe or border, allege"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Valiavichareska said students never planned to disrupt finals, which she called a pretext for ousting the students.

    SFGate: Top News Stories

  • So the Inauguration, cause or pretext is as good a reason as any other to stop.

    Let Go | ATTACKERMAN

  • They looked for that pretext from the first moment that they had the first excuse to.

    1350th Day - :: gia’s blog ::

  • The conflict over the caricatures, like almost any other of a religious nature or pretext, is childish and trivial and should be a work of fiction.

    Totem And Task

  • Till the passions of the mind in man and woman are separate and distinct, till the sex of vital animation, denominated soul, be ascertained, on what pretext is woman deprived of those amusements which man is permitted to enjoy?

    Letter to the Women of England, on the Injustice of Mental Subordination

  • What types of reasons for discrimination constitute a "pretext" -- a cover-up -- when it comes to employer reasons for gender identity discrimination?

    The Bilerico Project

  • [1] on what pretext is he confined but as the prisoner of the allies? he cannot be supposed the prisoner of the Emperor individually. therefore instead of seeing any impropriety in the interference of England, I think for its own honor this country should wash its hands of so infamous a transaction.

    Letter 195

  • The pretext is a shopworn plot in which Dave and his best friend Mitch, a heedless hedonist played by Ryan Reynolds, magically switch bodies.

    'Apes': Something to Thump Chests About

  • Though the pretext was a trivial episode about improperly requisitioning a horse, behind Huerta's action was a deep-seated hatred of Villa.

    The Mexican Revolution: a nation in flux - part 1 (1910-20)

  • Basically, the pretext was a discussion of the character of the part and the film, with DeMille sizing up the actor in front of him.

    Empire of Dreams

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