Definition of pretence in English:

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Pronunciation: /prɪˈtɛns/
(US pretense)


1An attempt to make something that is not the case appear true: his anger is masked by a pretence that all is well [mass noun]: they have finally abandoned their secrecy and pretence
More example sentences
  • He had circled around to come to the village by the south, on the pretence of making it appear that he was headed for Kaye.
  • Secondly during the course of the negotiations he put forward the pretence about the attempts to obtain finance.
  • I don't think it is by accident that men try to cover up their true sexuality and in many cases go through the pretence of being heterosexual.
make-believe, act, putting on an act, acting, dissembling, shamming, sham, faking, feigning, simulation, falsification, dissimulation, invention, imagination, self-deception, play-acting, posturing, posture, posing, pose, cant, attitudinizing;
deception, deceit, deceitfulness, fraud, hoax, fraudulence, fabrication, duplicity, artifice, subterfuge, treachery, trickery, dishonesty, hypocrisy, falsity, lying, mendacity, lack of veracity;
British  false colours
informal kidology
rare simulacrum
false show, show, semblance, affectation, false appearance, appearance, outward appearance, impression, image, front, false front, guise, colour, facade, display, posture, pose, masquerade, mask, cloak, veil, veneer, smokescreen, camouflage, cover, travesty, parody, charade
archaic snivel
pretext, false excuse, guise, sham, ruse, wile, trickery;
lie, falsehood
1.1 [mass noun] The practice of inventing imaginary situations in play: before the age of two, children start to engage in pretence
More example sentences
  • It appears that the communicative competence is better displayed when children engage in pretense situations.
  • This gap refers to the lack of opportunities to engage in pretense and exploration with language that occurs through free play in the classroom.
  • ‘I once told a massager he had magic hands, that was embarrassing,’ I blurted, without thought to set up the background of my story or pretence.
1.2 [mass noun] Affected and ostentatious speech and behaviour: they have always avoided preciousness and pretence
More example sentences
  • But true appreciation of wine derives from the realization that it is meant to be shared with those around us, without pretense or affectation, in proper measure, and as an enhancement to our lives.
  • And a waiting moment was enough - she and I yet again flinging every possible limit aside, deciding on all manner of pretense and affectation.
  • Besides, he has no tolerance for the pomp, pageantry and pretense of the whole show.
pretentiousness, display, ostentation, affectation, showiness, flaunting, posturing, posing, humbug
2 (pretence to) A claim to have a particular skill or quality: he was quick to disclaim any pretence to superiority
More example sentences
  • In this regard, the menace of bio-terrorism can be seen as usefully clarifying, since it eliminates all pretence to political legitimacy and announces itself starkly as a planetary scourge.
  • In using the term ‘horrifying’, I am not including am-dram productions of The King and I, which never had any serious pretense to quality.
  • The real scandal is that a newspaper that once had some pretense to quality now prints ignorant drivel like this.
claim, aspiration, purporting, profession


Late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French pretense, based on medieval Latin pretensus 'pretended', alteration of Latin praetentus, from the verb praetendere (see pretend).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pre|tence

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