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From ostensible +‎ -ly.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɒˈstɛn.sɪ.bli/ or /ɒˈstɛn.sə.bli/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ɑːˈstɛn.sə.bli/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: os‧ten‧si‧bly


ostensibly (not comparable)

  1. (modal) Seemingly, apparently, on the surface.
    Synonyms: apparently, arguably, at first blush, seemingly; see also Thesaurus:ostensibly
    • 1889, Leslie Stephen, Sidney Lee, Dictionary of National Biography:
      On 13 June the peshwa signed a new treaty, ostensibly complying with the demands of the British government []
    • 1905, Upton Sinclair, chapter IX, in The Jungle, New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, published 26 February 1906, →OCLC:
      Up to a year or two ago it had been the custom to kill horses in the yards — ostensibly for fertilizer; []
    • 2007, Brian Herbert, Kevin J Anderson, Sandworms of Dune:
      People strive to achieve perfection — ostensibly an honorable goal — but complete perfection is dangerous. To be imperfect, but human, is far preferable.
    • 2007 April 10, “Who Killed Ashraf Marwan?”, in The New York Times[1], retrieved 18 September 2015:
      Mr. Marwan’s story — a tale overflowing with the suspense and ruthless duplicity of a spy novel — began to take shape in the spring of 1969. He had come to London, ostensibly to consult a Harley Street doctor about a stomach ailment. He chose to be examined by a doctor whose offices had been used previously for a covert meeting between King Hussein of Jordan and the general director of the Israeli prime minister’s office."
    • 2023 July 26, Christian Wolmar, “Closing ticket offices to lead to 'catch-22' for passengers”, in RAIL, number 988, page 42:
      Quite possibly the worst aspect of this is the role of the train operating companies and their representative body, the ineptly named Rail Delivery Group (RDG). Ostensibly, the plan has come from them. In reality, this has been driven entirely by Government, which asked each train operator to draw up plans for its area.

Related terms[edit]