V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary



Definition: a made up excuse used to hide the truth

Synonyms: excuse, alibi, mask, cover


Tips: Pretext is derived from the Latin praetextus, “show, display,” and praetexere, “to weave before, adorn,” from texere, “to weave.” The word textile is also derived from this root. A pretext is like an intricate lie, woven to mask the truth. Do not confuse pretext with the similar word, pretense. They have similar meanings, both involving deception, but a pretext is more like an excuse or lie to hide the truth, while a pretense is any deceptive action or behavior.

Usage Examples:

I called her on the pretext that I lost our homework assignment, but really I just wanted an excuse to talk to her. (cover, excuse)

He went over to visit her on the pretext that he just happened to be in the neighborhood, but everyone knows he has a crush on her. (alibi, excuse)

People critical of the President believe his desire to spread freedom is a pretext to invade oil-rich nations, but since the US has not profited from any oil, his reasons are probably true. (lie, excuse)

He said he was late on the pretext that he had to stop by the client's office before coming to our meeting, but I learned later that he never visited the client's office. (alibi, excuse)

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