- the ostensible purpose for the trip
- That intelligence and those facts, of course, all pertained to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, the war's ostensible casus belli, which we now know did not exist. —Frank Rich, New York Review, 6 Apr. 2006
- To listen again to "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"—probably the most relentlessly cheerful song ever written on the ostensible theme of misery—is at once to admire its delicately judged textures and Swiss-watch precision … —Geoffrey O'Brien, New York Review of Books, 15 Dec. 2005
- Its ostensible subject is America's murderous gun culture. Its real subject, of course, is the ravenous ego of its director-star, Michael Moore. —Scott Berg, Time, 14 July 2003
- It's a snarky, glory-thieving place, the world of big-bucks political fund raising. Ostensible grownups can be reduced to screaming toddlers over who gets the credit for bringing in a major donor's gift … —Viveca Novak, Time, 14 June 1999
the ostensible reason for the meeting turned out to be a trick to get him to the surprise party
Recent Examples of ostensible from the Web
- Ditko’s ostensible line in the sand was a bizarre and telling example of his strict principles and of his emphasis on realism even within the technicolor pages of comic books.
- With its rhetoric Saturday, the regime tried to drive that home, objecting to Pompeo’s demand that denuclearization be complete and verifiable — even though that has been the administration’s ostensible objective all along.
- Neruda’s gift is lyrical, not narrative, and his ostensible epic, on inspection, is so many lyrics in historically chronological order.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ostensible.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Like its synonyms "apparent" and "seeming," "ostensible" implies a discrepancy between what appears to be and what actually is. "Apparent" suggests appearance to unaided senses that may not be borne out by more rigorous examination ("the apparent cause of the accident"). "Seeming" implies a character in the thing being observed that gives it the appearance of something else ("the seeming simplicity of the story"). "Ostensible," which descends from the Latin word ostendere ("to show"), suggests a discrepancy between a declared or implied aim or reason and the true one.
Origin and Etymology of ostensible
First Known Use: circa 1771
in the meaning defined at sense 1
- 〈the apparent cause of the accident〉
- 〈an illusory sense of security〉
- 〈the seeming simplicity of the story〉
- 〈the ostensible reason for their visit〉