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[pree-tekst] /ˈpri tɛkst/
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.
Origin of pretext
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
Can be confused
pretense, pretext.
2. subterfuge, evasion. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pretext
  • 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.
  • That paves the way for all kinds of pretext-based firings.
  • Where do you see appropriation, questionable legality or pretext?
  • But my offer in hand, and my decision deadline, gave me a pretext to call.
  • As is the case in the best sports fiction, the game is usually a pretext for an examination of deeper issues and emotions.
  • The photographs are in some cases merely a pretext for a collage about a wedding or a barbecue.
  • For the rest it was a pretext to exchange gifts and party with friends.
British Dictionary definitions for pretext


a fictitious reason given in order to conceal the real one
a specious excuse; pretence
Word Origin
C16: from Latin praetextum disguise, from praetexere to weave in front, disguise; see texture
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pretext

1510s, from French prétexte, from Latin praetextum "a pretext, outward display," noun use of neuter past participle of praetexere "to disguise, cover," literally "weave in front" (for sense, cf. pull the wool over (someone's) eyes); from prae- "in front" (see pre-) + texere "to weave," from PIE root *tek- "make" (see texture (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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