pre·tense (prētĕns′, prĭ-tĕns)
a. A false appearance or action intended to deceive: "He ran the back of his hand up her cheek, with the pretense of wiping away sweat" (Jonathan Safran Foer).
b. A professed but feigned reason or excuse; a pretext: left the room under the pretense of having to make a phone call.
2. Something imagined or pretended: "Ardor had atrophied and weariness had taken its place ... their connection was pretense" (Deborah Weisgall).
a. The quality or state of being pretentious; ostentation: so modest as to be free from any hint of pretense.
b. A false or studied show; an affectation: models making a pretense of nonchalance.
4. A claim or assertion to a right, especially a false one: "a celebrity with scarcely any pretense to talent or achievement" (Joseph Epstein).
[Middle English, from Old French pretensse, from Medieval Latin *praetēnsa, from Late Latin, feminine of praetēnsus, alteration of Latin praetentus, past participle of praetendere, to pretend, assert; see PRETEND.]
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