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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ The ostensible reason was Mr Moussa's supposedly unauthorised dialogue with representatives of the main radical religious group, the Jamaat Islamiya.
▪ The ostensible reason for this outlay was that kerosene was the lighting fuel of the poor.
▪ The war was fought to remove a cruel dictator - at least that was the ostensible aim.
▪ Does Astrophil, who is the ostensible author, mean he loves truth or that it is true he is in love?
▪ He similarly assumes that exile players are only qualified for the clubs' ostensible countries of origin.
▪ Intel carefully skirted the issues of Pentium's price and delivery at its ostensible introduction last month.
▪ Ongoing problems seem to arise of their own accord, and then to spread through the ranks with no ostensible cause.
▪ The ostensible reason for this outlay was that kerosene was the lighting fuel of the poor.
▪ These experiences left him skeptical of the ostensible benefits of closing the glass subsidiary.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Ostensible \Os*ten"si*ble\ ([o^]s*t[e^]n"s[i^]*b'l), a. [From L. ostensus, p. p. of ostendere to show, prop., to stretch out before; fr. prefix obs- (old form of ob-) + tendere to stretch. See Tend.]

  1. Capable of being shown; proper or intended to be shown. [R.]

  2. Outwardly appearing to be; shown to be; exhibited; apparent; evident.

  3. Declared; avowed; professed; pretended; -- often used as opposed to real or actual; as, an ostensible reason, motive, or aim.
    --D. Ramsay.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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.


a. 1 apparent, evident; meant for open display. 2 Appearing as such; being such in appearance; professed, supposed (rather than demonstrably true or real).

  1. adj. appearing as such but not necessarily so; "for all his apparent wealth he had no money to pay the rent"; "the committee investigated some apparent discrepancies"; "the ostensible truth of their theories"; "his seeming honesty" [syn: apparent(a), seeming(a)]

  2. represented or appearing as such; pretended; "His ostensible purpose was charity, his real goal popularity" [syn: ostensive]

Usage examples of "ostensible".

After this complaint he communicated to the Congress the ostensible instructions of Napoleon, in which he authorised his Minister to accede to the demands of the Allies.

The character of this movement will more fully appear when noticing the debates in parliament which afterwards took place on the subject: it is here only necessary to say, that the ostensible and real objects of the agitators were very different.

It reposed unsuspected still tightly rolled within a cour bouilli tube that had, as the ostensible handle of the case, passed all scrutiny.

For by now the civilizing mission, which was the ostensible motive of all their heroic adventures, would have become a rigid obsession.

Chile: one the ostensible diplomatic one and the other - unknown to the State Department or the US ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry - a strategy of destabilization, kidnap and assassination, designed to provoke a military coup.

He had to handle this delicately, get Marlon to dismiss Pimento on ostensible grounds.

The communication stated the ostensible facts--that a mysterious fellow named Decimo Tercio had brought unusual pelts to St.

While diplomatic language since the age of heralds had habitually used subterfuge, and presupposed distinctions between ostensible and actual intentions that would be read by those to whom its messages were addressed, the language of citizens was meant to be transparently sincere, direct and unmediated.

The Chief Judge, whose ostensible duty it was to restrain prosecutorial abuse, was a block away, across Federal Square, in the grand old courthouse to which the District Court judges all returned once the new building proved nearly uninhabitable.

The ostensible reason for their visit was to study and photograph the animals and birdlife of the delta or to troll for the glittering striped tigerfish that shoaled in the waterways.

Emperor had built with the ostensible reason of keeping him from having to look at the clots in Parliament, talking of this, and that.

Production has been abolished, and reproduced mass-media images circulate randomly and fragmentarily on their own, having outlived their ostensible purpose of creating demand and stimulating sales.

I believe they will even steal ostensible GAMBLE-money, rather than miss, poor, tempted, and mistrained fellows.

His departure opens Chatterford to the hazards of examination and regulation which many forces in our rising democracy would impose upon institutions of its ostensible type.

He had followed many trades on various goldfields, including that of unlicensed liquor seller, and having accumulated a considerable capital by the consistent exercise of the strictest dishonesty, had settled down into the ostensible occupation of sharebroker and mining agent, with which elastic vocation he combined those of money-lender, gold-buyer, and receiver of property more or less disputed as to title.