Today's Word "Ostensible"

Apparent or conspicuous on

Published in Vocabulary

ostensible \ah-STEN-seh-behl\ (adjective) - Apparent, evident, conspicuous.

"While Allison ostensibly travels to Atlanta on business, she only goes when the Braves are playing a home game."


Via French from Medieval Latin "ostensibilis" from "ostensus," the past participle of ostendere "to show." This verb is composed of ob- "to(ward)" + tendere "to stretch," probably from stretching the arm out to show things. "Tendere" is based on the same original root, *ten- "stretch," as English "thin" and German "dunn," since stretching tends to make things thinner. The same root also developed into Latin tenere "to hold," which is detectable in the English borrowings "tenet," "tenant," "tenacious," "tenable." "Tense" and "tension" are also relatives. Finally, "baritone" is based partially on Greek tonos "string" of the same origin. Guess where "tone" came from. Although today's word means "evident," it usually implies the concealment of something more important, more real. So one's ostensible reason for going to a restaurant would be to eat but the more important one might be to talk with a certain waitress.




Walt Handelsman David M. Hitch Curtis Signe Wilkinson Doonesbury Herb and Jamaal