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From Biology-Online Dictionary
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ostensible reason or motive assigned or assumed as a colour or cover for the real reason or motive; pretense; disguise. They suck the blood of those they depend on, under a pretext of service and kindness. (L'Estrange) With how much or how little pretext of reason. (dr. H. More)

Synonym: Pretense, excuse, semblance, disguise, appearance. See Pretense.

Origin: F. Pretexte, L. Praetextum, fr. Praetextus, p. P. Of praetexere to weave before, allege as an excuse; prae = before _ texere to weave.