pretext - definition and synonyms

noun [countable] 

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  1. a reason that you pretend to have in order to hide your real reason or intention
    pretext for:

    The conflict was used as a pretext for introducing military rule.

    on/under the pretext of doing something:

    He visited her on the pretext of borrowing a book.

    a pretext to do something:

    A slight fall in profits gave the management a pretext to get rid of some older members of staff.