[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. pretermission,
  2. pretermit,
  3. preternatural,
  4. preterperfect,
  5. pretest,
  6. pretexta,
  7. pretexting,
  8. pretibial fever,
  9. pretibial myxedema,
  10. preticketed

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 confusedpretense pretext Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pretext

British Dictionary definitions for pretext


/ (ˈpriːtɛkst) /


a fictitious reason given in order to conceal the real one
a specious excuse; pretence

Word Origin for pretext

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

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