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[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
  • She had been convicted of blackmail, and she made no pretense even of innocence.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Ben pretended to be vexed with Dick and Tom, but it was only pretense.

    The Dare Boys of 1776 Stephen Angus Cox
  • “Tell us some more about Big Brother Bill,” she said, with the pretense of a sigh.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • Hastily he threw on the packs, making no pretense at neat packing.

    Louisiana Lou William West Winter
  • That cannot be simulated; the pretense of it is in general, in the long run, futile.

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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