something that is put forward to conceal a true purpose or object; an ostensible reason; excuse: The leaders used the insults as a pretext to declare war.
the misleading appearance or behavior assumed with this intention: His many lavish compliments were a pretext for subtle mockery.

1505–15; < Latin praetextum pretext, ornament, noun use of neuter past participle of praetexere to pretend, literally, to weave in front, hence, adorn. See pre-, texture

pretense, pretext.

2. subterfuge, evasion. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pretext (ˈpriːtɛkst)
1.  a fictitious reason given in order to conceal the real one
2.  a specious excuse; pretence
[C16: from Latin praetextum disguise, from praetexere to weave in front, disguise; see texture]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1513, from L. prætextum "a pretext," originally neuter pp. of prætexere "to disguise, cover," from præ- "in front" + texere "to weave" (cf. pull the wool over someone's eyes); from PIE base *tek- "make" (see texture).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The plaintiff must then show that the defendant's proffered reason is merely a
  pretext for intentional discrimination.
If the employer does so, the complainant must then prove that the proffered
  reason is merely a pretext for discrimination.
You defined your examples and observations based on that pretext.
Critics of the government say the investigation has become a pretext for
  punishing opponents of the government.
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