9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pri-tens, pree-tens] /prɪˈtɛns, ˈpri tɛns/
pretending or feigning; make-believe:
My sleepiness was all pretense.
a false show of something:
a pretense of friendship.
a piece of make-believe.
the act of pretending or alleging falsely.
a false allegation or justification:
He excused himself from the lunch on a pretense of urgent business.
insincere or false profession:
His pious words were mere pretense.
the putting forth of an unwarranted claim.
the claim itself.
any allegation or claim:
to obtain money under false pretenses.
pretension (usually followed by to):
destitute of any pretense to wit.
Also, especially British, pretence.
Origin of pretense
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Anglo-French < Medieval Latin *praetēnsa, noun use of feminine of praetēnsus, past participle (replacing Latin praetentus) of praetendere to pretend
Related forms
pretenseful, adjective
pretenseless, adjective
Can be confused
pretense, pretext.
1. shamming. 2. semblance. 3. mask, veil. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for pretenses
  • They really put a time limit on you without the pretenses of being a minion of the grad system.
  • Without religion, those wars wouldn't cease, they would simply be fought under different pretenses.
  • Except that proceed from false pretenses, or state your position dishonestly.
  • We squandered that however on a war started on false pretenses.
  • The pretense lacks standing even among pretenses, and a faith must be induced before its removal can enliven us.
  • The pretenses are both self-inflating and, to any reader having normal acquaintance with the run of the world, insulting.
  • They were charged today with one count each of entering a federal building under false pretenses.
  • Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation.
  • It was an imperialist war of expansion started with false pretenses.
  • They expose hoaxes quickly, and make short work of false pretenses.
Word Origin and History for pretenses



also pretence, early 15c., "the putting forth of a claim," from Anglo-French pretensse, Middle French pretensse (Modern French prétense), from Medieval Latin noun use of fem. of Late Latin praetensus, altered from Latin praetentus, past participle of praetendere (see pretend). Meaning "false or hypocritical profession" is from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for pretense

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for pretenses

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with pretenses