• (British) IPA: /ɒˈstɛns.ɪ.bəl/
  • (America) IPA: /ɑˈstɛns.ɪ.bəl/


  1. Apparent, evident; meant for open display.
    • 1956–1960, R.S. Peters, The Concept of Motivation, Routledge & Kegan Paul (second edition, 1960), chapter ii: “Motives and Motivation”, page 32:
      Motives, of course, may be mixed; but this only means that a man aims at a variety of goals by means of the same course of action. Similarly a man may have a strong motive or a weak one, an ulterior motive or an ostensible one.
      In witch-trials the conflict was officially defined as between the accused and God, or between the accused and the Catholic (later Protestant) church, as God's earthly representative. [...]
      Behind the ostensible conflict of the witch-trial lay the usual conflicts of social class, values, and human relationships.
    • 2016 January 26, "When ‘Made In Israel’ Is a Human Rights Abuse ↗," The New York Times (retrieved 26 January 2016):
      The ostensible reason this provision was added to a bill on international trade is to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a grass-roots campaign that seeks to pressure Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians.
  2. Appearing as such; being such in appearance; professed, supposed (rather than demonstrably true or real).
    The ostensible reason for his visit to New York was to see his mother, but the real reason was to get to the Yankees game the next day.
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