• synonyms


[o-sten-suh-buh l]
See more synonyms for ostensible on Thesaurus.com
  1. outwardly appearing as such; professed; pretended: an ostensible cheerfulness concealing sadness.
  2. apparent, evident, or conspicuous: the ostensible truth of their theories.
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Origin of ostensible

1720–30; < French < Latin ostēns(us), variant of ostentus (see ostensive) + French -ible -ible
Related formsos·ten·si·bly, adverbnon·os·ten·si·ble, adjectivenon·os·ten·si·bly, adverbun·os·ten·si·ble, adjectiveun·os·ten·si·bly, adverb
Can be confusedostensible ostensive
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for ostensibly

supposedly, officially, evidently, seemingly, outwardly, superficially, externally, professedly, sensibly

Examples from the Web for ostensibly

Contemporary Examples of ostensibly

Historical Examples of ostensibly

  • Ostensibly they were a literary society; really they were diamond polishers.

  • He had discarded his hat, and lay back on his elbows, ostensibly to look at the moon.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Ostensibly the letter invited him to address the Silver Shirts.

    Secret Armies

    John L. Spivak

  • He could not retire from Mexico after this ostensibly friendly visit.

  • He was not certain, but when had George left Atlanta, ostensibly for Memphis?

    The Winning Clue

    James Hay, Jr.

British Dictionary definitions for ostensibly


  1. (sentence modifier) apparently; seemingly
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  1. apparent; seeming
  2. pretended
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Derived Formsostensibility, noun

Word Origin for ostensible

C18: via French from Medieval Latin ostensibilis, from Latin ostendere to show, from ob- before + tendere to extend
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

Word Origin and History for ostensibly


1765, from ostensible + -ly (2).

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1762, "capable of being shown, presentable," from French ostensible, from Latin ostens-, past participle stem of ostendere "to show, expose to view; to stretch out, spread before; exhibit, display," from ob "in front of" (see ob-) + tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). Meaning "apparent, professed" is from 1771.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper