ostensible, ostensive
Ostensible means ‘apparent but not necessarily real’ or ‘professed’:

• Despite their ostensible commitment to revolution, they played an ambivalent and ultimately counter-revolutionary role —E. Acton, 1992.

It is often used in the adverbial form ostensibly:

• All such songs were ostensibly aimed at the respectable record-buyer, for whom seeing Frankie Vaughan in cabaret at the Talk of the Town was the acme of sophistication —Arts & Book Review, 2007.

Ostensive, a much rarer word, means ‘directly demonstrative’ and is normally used in technical contexts with words such as definition (meaning a definition that shows what it describes, e.g. a definition of the term italics printed in italics):

• If one attempts to teach a dog by way of ostensive definition, it invariably responds by sniffing one's finger —A. F. Chalmers, 1992.

To complete the picture, ostentatious, which is less likely to be confused with the other two, means ‘pretentious and showy’.

Modern English usage. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • ostensible — [ ɔstɑ̃sibl ] adj. • 1739; du lat. ostensus, p. p. de ostendere « montrer » 1 ♦ Vx Qui peut être montré publiquement sans inconvénient. 2 ♦ (1801) Littér. Qui est fait sans se cacher ou avec l intention d être remarqué. ⇒ apparent, ouvert, patent …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • ostensible — I adjective able to be seen, apparent, appearing, assumable, assumed, avowed, believable, claimed, clear, colorable, conjecturable, credible, deceiving, deceptive, declared, deluding, delusional, delusive, delusory, discernible, evident, explicit …   Law dictionary

  • Ostensible — Os*ten si*ble ([o^]s*t[e^]n s[i^]*b l), a. [From L. ostensus, p. p. of ostendere to show, prop., to stretch out before; fr. prefix obs (old form of ob ) + tendere to stretch. See {Tend}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Capable of being shown; proper or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ostensible — ‘Manifiesto o patente’: «Dolores, con ostensible indiferencia, tararea» (Gambaro Malasangre [Arg. 1982]). No debe confundirse con ostentoso (‘llamativo por su suntuosidad o aparatosidad’; → ostentoso) …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • ostensible — 1762, from Fr. ostensible, from L. ostensus, pp. of ostendere to show, from ob in front of + tendere to stretch (see TENET (Cf. tenet)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • ostensible — adjetivo 1. (antepuesto / pospuesto) Uso/registro: elevado. Que se nota o se percibe con sólo observarlo superficialmente: Su amargura resultaba ostensible, aunque intentaba ocultarla …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • ostensible — *apparent, seeming, illusory Analogous words: specious, *plausible, colorable: pretended, assumed, affected, simulated, feigned (see ASSUME) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • ostensible — [adj] alleged, supposed apparent, avowed, colorable, demonstrative, exhibited, illusive, illusory, likely, manifest, notable, outward, plausible, pretended, professed, purported, quasi, seeming, semblant, so called*, specious, superficial;… …   New thesaurus

  • ostensible — (Del lat. ostendĕre, mostrar). 1. adj. Que puede manifestarse o mostrarse. 2. Claro, manifiesto, patente …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • ostensible — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ apparently true, but not necessarily so. DERIVATIVES ostensibly adverb. ORIGIN Latin ostensibilis, from ostendere stretch out to view …   English terms dictionary