When something is ostensible it appears to be the case but might not be. Your ostensible reason for visiting every bakery in town is that you're looking for a part-time job — but I think you really just want to eat cupcakes.

Just because something is ostensible doesn't necessarily mean that it's not as it appears to be, only that there's a possibility of another reason. Your ostensible reason for calling your crush was to ask about homework; the real reason was that you were hoping they would ask you out. Ostensible derives from the Latin verb ostendere, meaning "to show or display."

Definitions of ostensible
  1. adjective
    appearing as such but not necessarily so
    “the ostensible truth of their theories”
    synonyms: apparent, seeming
    concerned with or comprehending only what is apparent or obvious; not deep or penetrating emotionally or intellectually
  2. adjective
    represented or appearing as such; pretended
    “His ostensible purpose was charity, his real goal popularity”
    synonyms: ostensive
    counterfeit, imitative
    not genuine; imitating something superior
Word Family
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