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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pretense
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In return Jack shook her fist at him with what was not all a pretense of indignation.

    The Ranch Girls at Home Again Margaret Vandercook
  • Life which made a pretense of him, enters its tabernacle and closes the doors on him.

    Fantazius Mallare Ben Hecht
  • At any rate after this on every pretense David went out of his way to have her meet his friends.

    Rich Man, Poor Man Maximilian Foster
  • From the first there had been no pretense of friendship between these two.

    Brand Blotters William MacLeod Raine
  • Here—now on one pretense and now on another—I could visit her, and we could both plan together what our future lives were to be.

Word Origin and History for pretense

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
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